Transitional Ministries – is a ministry that brings greater health and restoration to churches in transition, through the intentional guidance of a trained Transitional Leader (TL) and the District Transitional Coach. The transitional process usually involves 12 – 24 months of strategic ministry and generally occurs during that time period when a church is between Lead Pastors.
The Transitional Leader – functions as a gardener, not a mechanic. Like the gardener in one of Jesus’ parables (Luke 13:6-9), who digs around the roots of a tree and fertilizes it, so that it will once again produce fruit, the Transitional Leader helps guide a church toward a greater sense of health and fruitfulness by taking them through a strategic Transitional Process.
The Transitional Process - involves an initial period of Assessment. Then, depending on what that assessment reveals, the Transitional Leader will help bring closure to the past and guide the church through a period of relational renewal, vision renewal, structural renewal and spiritual renewal. Concluding that, they will then help the church walk through the Pastoral Search Process and prepare the church for the arrival of their new pastor. A Key factor in the process is the preaching and teaching ministry of the Transitional Leader.
Closure to the Past – is important regardless of the health of a church entering a transition. For instance, after a positive experience, the church family will need to grieve the loss of their pastor and celebrate past successes. After a negative experience, the church family will need to heal. In either case bringing closure is essential before a church can move forward toward the future God has in store for them.
Spiritual Renewal – addresses peoples’ relationship with God and as such, permeates the entire transitional process. Throughout their time with the church, the Transitional Leader calls the church family to a greater intimacy with God, building in them a greater sense of faith in God’s ability to move with power in their midst. The goal is for them to become increasingly more Christ-Centred, Spirit-Empowered and Mission-Focused.
Relational Renewal – addresses the level of community that the church family is experiencing individually and corporately. During this stage, hurts are identified and lovingly dealt with, and people are encouraged to develop a greater sense of emotional health, learning how to become peacemakers that will lead to stronger relationships.
Vision Renewal – helps the church family explore God’s intended purpose for them. The goal during this stage is to identify who God wants the church to be and what He wants them to do. The Vision document that comes out of this process will not only help a church rally around a common identity and purpose, but will become an important tool in the search process for the next Lead Pastor who will help lead them toward that preferred future.
Structural Renewal – takes an open look at the way in which the church governs itself, identifying the essential role and responsibilities of the local church elders and other leaders. The goal at this stage is to ensure that a church’s structure (which includes its governance, policies and procedures) releases people for ministry rather than hinders them; and where necessary restores a functional and biblical leadership structure.
The Pastoral Search – is directed by the Transitional Leader, who guides the Elders and the Search Team through the process that will eventually culminate with the call of a Lead Pastor. During this time, the Search Team and Elders are equipped as they embark on this spiritual journey. Although there are definitely HR responsibilities that are important in the search process, it is less of an HR experience and more of a spiritual journey with God – where the Search Team and the Elders seek to discern God’s will for a new Lead Pastor who best fits the identity and vision of the church family.
Fresh Start – What is a Fresh Start? There are times when a church is declining to the point that it may be unable to participate in a regular Transitional Process. This could be due to financial constraints, the age or size of the congregation and/or the inability to call a full-time pastor. In cases such as this, something called a Fresh Start may be in order. This often involves the development of a partnership agreement between a healthy Partnering Church (PC), the District Ministry Centre (DMC) and the Declining Church (DC). The partnership can look differently depending on each situation, but generally:
- The PC will provide encouragement and resources (i.e. finances, staff, people, etc.) and may develop a short term or long term partnership with the DC.
- The DC will agree to shut down for an agreed upon period of time and worship at the PC, using that time to build a new core group ready to re-launch the church.
- The DMC will provide the District Transitional Ministries Coach and/or a Transitional Leader, to give oversight and encouragement to both the PC and DC. The District might also provide financial assistance.
For more informationcontact Eugene Neudorf (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Director of Church Development (Transitional Ministries Coach) for the CCD. Eugene will be able to provide you with more detail about the Transitional Process and its value to a church in Transition. He will also help you find a Transitional Leader and provide Coaching throughout the transitional process as needed, both to the Church in Transition and the Transitional Leader.