Art of Transitional Ministry: Knitty Gritty and Logistics

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It was a nice worship service Wednesday morning, and transported me to Korean language morning prayer services where voices are murmuring all around you in prayer even as you quietly  your own heart. Hearing prayers spoken all around me set the tone for the day in terms of anchoring and rooting me, and helping me be present. We cannonballed right into some of the practical situations of boundaries – helping craft an exiting strategy and ideas of welcoming the new pastor, the need for self-care, and the importance of having a clear sense of ethic as a pastor. The last piece was interesting in that the faculty were pretty explicit about the public nature of the role and being the pastor in every situation – dinner parties, meetings, BBQ with youth, etc. whether it is enjoyable or not (I laughed).

Most of the day was spent on what sort of assessment tools to use to understand a congregation. There was a lot of talk about generational theory as a broad engagement of current culture, but a way to see how those values are embodied in it. Likewise, a look at life cycles as a way to understand how a church needs to be treated based on where it is on the arc (From birth, infancy, adolescence, prime, maturity, (the arc starts to go down) aristocracy, bureaucracy, death and resurrection. It’s a way to understand how to care for a church in a way that is sensitive to its “developmental” stage. Finally, we look at the importance of church size because size matters in terms of certain dynamics that are key to how many people are a part of the community, and also active in its ministry. There was some talk about the 80/20 rule but most said that it felt like 90/10 (as in 10% of the congregation did most of the work).

Bottom line, this work isn’t a cakewalk. It means asking hard questions. It means forming and following a plan of acton. It means getting into it – into the messy, awkward, and hurt feelings. It means making space for all voices. But, most of all, it means caring for a church that needs help getting ready for the future. They’re not getting ready just for a new pastor, but getting ready to step into a new vision, a new identity, and maybe a new ministry.