Leadership Succession

Click here to view a collection of congratulatory messages from representatives of Bartley Family of Churches as well as the local and global body of Christ.


Lead Pastor Ben KC Lee Appointed as Senior Pastor on 5 May 2019

Since assuming his role as Lead Pastor in February 2011, our former Senior Pastor, Lionel Goh, has provided the much-needed stability and continuity amidst transitions in our Senior Leadership Team and Elders Board. We thank God for Pastor Lionel’s obedience to His call of leading our staff team as well as shepherding the members.

In August 2015, God began to place upon Pastor Lionel’s heart an urgency to plan for a successor to take over as Senior Pastor. Knowing that the process would take several years, Pastor Lionel proceeded to share his conviction with the Elders Board in December that year. It was also during that time that he met Pastors Ben and Dinah Lee who were then serving with Focus on the Family.

What ensued was a journey of praying and seeking the Lord by the church’s Senior Leadership Team and Elders Board as well as Pastors Ben and Dinah about the possibility of Pastor Ben succeeding Pastor Lionel as Senior Pastor. Here is a summary of that leadership succession journey.


Dear RiverLife Family,

It has been my greatest honour and privilege to be able to lead you for the past eight years. When I was appointed as Lead Pastor in 2011, I saw myself as an interim leader and I told the Lord that in the longer run, He had to bring a gifted and more experienced leader to helm the church.

In December 2015, I responded to God’s stirring in my heart for someone to take over my role as Senior Pastor by sharing with our Elders. It was around the same time that I got to know Pastors Ben and Dinah who were helping RiverLife implement Whole Life Discipleship. As I got to know them better over the next one year, I saw that they possessed both godly leadership and ample experience of building a local church.

Our Elders, who have been praying and seeking the Lord’s heart for RiverLife’s future, also spent individual time with Pastors Ben and Dinah and they felt very comfortable relating with this couple. Subsequently, the Elders formally invited Pastors Ben and Dinah to join the RiverLife Pastoral Team.

I believe that God had His hand in this succession journey from the beginning and has guided our steps. As I hand the baton over to Pastor Ben, I urge you to pray along with me that God will use him mightily in the days ahead to carry out His plans for RiverLife Church.


Dear RiverLife Family,

My first encounter with you was back in 2002 when former Senior Pastor Vincent invited me to speak at a Cell Leaders Conference. I returned as a guest preacher in 2003 and 2004.

After things did not turn out as planned to relocate to North America, the Lord led me to pioneer Sexual Wholeness with Focus on the Family. Dinah and I went on to pioneer the Whole Life approach to discipleship and it was then that we got reconnected with RiverLife through Pastor Lionel.

In 2016, Dinah and I sensed the need to seek the Lord on what’s next as we approached our Jubilee year. The Lord gave us the words “Go Deeper”. We knew it meant going deeper into a local church with the Whole Life approach. One significant prophetic word that I received was that I would “pastor a church that will lead people in the narrow and winding path that leads to salvation”.

Dinah and I remained prayerful as we considered offers from several churches. After much prayer and discussion, it was clear that RiverLife was the church that the Lord was directing us to. In October 2017, we agreed to join RiverLife.

I am excited for what God is going to do in RiverLife in the days ahead. Pray that we’ll be good stewards of this call!


September 2016
Elder Aaron and Pastor Lionel started exploring with Pastors Ben and Dinah to consider joining RiverLife.

October 2016
Our Elders Board started to consider Pastor Ben KC Lee as a potential Senior Pastor successor. Elder Aaron as Board Chair and Senior Pastor Lionel approached Pastor Ben to consider joining RiverLife and potentially succeeding Pastor Lionel.

January to March 2017
Each Elder spent personal time with Pastors Ben & Dinah.

January to December 2017
Our Elders and Pastors interacted with Pastors Ben and Dinah in the monthly Leadership Cell. Our Senior Leadership Team continued to engage Pastors Ben and Dinah as consultants. This engagement started since January 2016.

October 2017
Pastors Ben & Dinah Lee agreed to join RiverLife Church as Senior Leaders. The Elders Board along with our Senior Leaders drafted a faith timeline for the succession to take place in mid-2019.

March 2018
Pastors Ben & Dinah Lee joined RiverLife Church as Senior Leaders. Pastor Ben also assumed his role as Lead Pastor.

April 2018
Pastors Ben and Dinah began meeting individually with cell leaders on a weekly basis.

August 2018
Pastor Ben KC Lee was commissioned as Lead Pastor during our 27th Anniversary services on 26 Aug.

September 2018
After much prayer and consideration, at a retreat chaired by Elder Ee Yang, the Elders Board and Senior Leadership Team unanimously decided to appoint Pastor Ben KC Lee as our next Senior Pastor.

May 2019
Pastor Ben KC Lee was commissioned as Senior Pastor during Sunday services on 5 May.

This timeline has been developed for three reasons:
• To allow Pastors Ben and Dinah time to develop relationships within the church.
• To enable the church leaders and members to get to know their new Senior Leaders.
• To maintain stability as a church and facilitate gradual transition of leadership responsibilities.

All in all, this leadership succession process has taken place over a period of two and a half years.


How will this transition affect RiverLife Church?
Change is inevitable with any transition, but RiverLife Church remains committed to nurturing godly families. The Senior Leadership Team has been communicating a new emphasis on relational disciple making through homes and cells. Our former Chair of the Elders Board and current Elder, Aaron Teo, sees this leadership renewal as a fulfilment of a prophecy he received – that by 2019, a new inter-generational team of leaders will arise to propel the church towards fulfilling God’s purpose for us.

Why does it seem like this succession is happened so soon?
This succession might seem rather quick to some, but the reality is that it was a two-and-a-half-year journey. In fact, succession has long been on Pastor Lionel’s heart from the point he agreed to take up the Lead Pastor role (back in 2011). He believes God has called him to provide leadership and stability for RiverLife amidst a period of transition.

Who is Pastor Ben KC Lee?
Ben was born in Sabah and came to Christ through the influence of his mom. He spent much of his schooling years in Singapore. Ben has been married to Dinah for over 28 years. They are parents to a pair of young adult twins – Deborah and Daniel – who are now also part of RiverLife. He started out as an accountant and subsequently served as Pastor then as Senior Pastor of Hope Church. Ben holds a Master’s degree from a US seminary. He is also author of the book – UNMASKED. You can read Ben’s journey of his move to RiverLife at this link: http://benkclee.blogspot.com/2018/03/another-transition.html.

What is Pastor Lionel Goh doing now that the transition is complete?
Pastor Lionel continues to serve as a Senior Leader in RiverLife. Apart from overseeing Missions and Community Care, he also serves as a Zone Pastor and continues teaching and preaching. He and his wife, Eunice, are actively involved in teaching ministry and they remain an integral part of our RiverLife family.

How should we respond to those who have concerns about this succession process?
Concerns are unavoidable, but it is beyond anyone to please everyone with every decision. Be patient with individuals who may express contrary views. Discern and address valid concerns but do not be pressured to prove that he or she is wrong. Encourage and challenge the person to seek God in this process and see this process bear fruit over time.

For any other questions not addressed here, please feel free to email office@riverlife.org.sg.

How can I be part of what God is doing?

  • Pray for God’s protection and guidance over both Pastor Lionel and Pastor Ben, and their respective families now that Pastor Lionel has handed over the leadership baton to Pastor Ben.
  • Pray that RiverLife, as a church family, to be unified and energised as we walk in this new season together.
  • Align your hearts together with our Church going forward.
  • Readily step up to serve in anticipation of what is to come.
  • Expect God’s faithfulness as always to lead RiverLife forward into fruitfulness and blessings. We believe our Heavenly Father has some big plans in store for us in the coming years.