September 7, 2016

Specialized Transition Ministry

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For today’s Whiteboard Wednesday, we have Art Wiers from the Luminex leadership team sharing the importance and role of a specialized transition minister, and his experiences in leading the transition ministry team for the Great Lakes Region.

The work that specialized transition ministers do brings significant value. There are many advantages to utilizing the resources of a specialized transitional minister when a church is going through a leadership transition, particularly when the transition involves the lead pastor. The common tendency during transitions is for consistories or church leaders to believe that, “we’ll just get some people to fill in, or we’ll just muddle through and then quickly look for a pastor.” Often times this approach ends up being less fruitful or advantageous than they had hoped for.

What follows are seven value-added aspects that transition ministers bring to churches in transition:

Although we are blessed to have excellent leaders in our churches, one of the things a specialized transition minister brings to a church in transition is healthy objectivity that no one else can. There can be really good leaders at the table in a board room, but the transition pastor has no bias and is able to see things with fresh eyes. The transition minister is able to ask questions and process difficult things in new and meaningful ways.

Another aspect that should not be underestimated is the importance of preparing a path for the new pastor to come in and build on the ministry that is already in place. This is key because oftentimes there are things in the way – things that obstruct meaningful ministry – and it can take that new pastor months or even years to get those obstacles cleared. A transition minister can be exceptionally helpful in preparing the runway for the next pastor.

Stability is an important factor to the church, which is why elders tend to be focused on maintaining stability. An advantage of an experienced, capable transition minister with strong leadership skills is that stability will be there on a daily basis, and the ministry will not suffer because of inconsistencies that might otherwise occur.

Continuity is another significant factor. While guest pastors can be helpful, when a church in transition has multiple different guest pastors over several months, it lacks the continuity necessary to hold a congregation together, or move a congregation forward. It is a blessing to a congregation to have the continuity of a capable preacher and communicator.

Another aspect that specialized ministers bring is guidance and resourcing, especially for the search process itself. Most people have little or no experience with understanding how best to seek a pastor who will be the right fit for a given church. The skills and experience of a specialized transition minister are very helpful as they provide counsel and facilitation, working alongside church leaders to help them sort through the process in a way that is meaningful and effective.

Another thing that typically happens to churches during a time of pastoral transition is the lack of momentum. Whether it’s people backing away from commitments or people wandering off to other churches, a specialized transition minister helps to minimize this issue. And sometimes, momentum will even pick up under their fresh leadership.

Last but not least is the matter of health and vitality. We want all of our churches healthy and growing and it is very difficult to grow and increase in health when you’re lacking a key leader in the church. Bringing in a specialized transition ministry helps to prevent momentum loss while opening up space that allows for growth in health and vitality.

We are so excited to be able to offer these services within our region and would be pleased to hold conversations with leaders who would like to learn more about transition ministry.

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