Photo by Gabriel Pico, courtesy of freeimages.com
When a church enters pastoral transition, the crying need often overlooked, is to gain a fresh look, a new perspective. Why?
Andy Stanley, in his book Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend, states it this way,
“The longer you’ve served where you are and the longer you’ve done what you are currently doing, the more difficult it will be for you to see your environments with the objectivity needed to make the changes that need to be made. The shorter version: Time in erodes awareness of.” (p.159)
I’ve started wearing my five finger shoes again. The change of seasons and warmer weather is just the encouragement I needed to put them on.
The change of seasons is a part of life we accept. We may prefer a certain season of the year but we can’t stop the others from coming. So we “adjust” to the change as it alters our wardrobe, our recreation, our yard work and even the tires on our car.
So it should not surprise us that churches go through seasons. They are not as predictable or evenly spaced as the dates on a calendar but they do come. Each church season has both advantages and difficulties. The key is to adjust and work with what the Lord has brought.
Not too long ago I was sitting on our back deck enjoying my coffee and watching the sunrise light up the front range of the Rockies with a pink glow. That’s when I noticed a herd of deer trying to cross the 4-lane thoroughfare behind our home.
Now I’ve observed lots of deer near roadways before and I could tell they were skittish. They weren’t quite sure which way to go. They would look back from where they had come and then nervously watch the cars go by. Finally a big buck darted across the road and all of them followed to the “safety” of a big field on the other side.
But then they saw a man walking his dog nearby and that caused them to scatter. Some ran back across the road, others took off across the field and one doe went it alone down the sidewalk.
All they wanted was safety, some nourishing grass to eat and a place to lay down and rest. Yet they were being driven by what they perceived were threatening circumstances.
The pastoral transition in a church can easily create a similar environment for the leadership team: the temptation to be driven by threatening circumstances.
When a church enters a period of pastoral transition it is a crucial time for the leadership team to ask some tough questions. The transition that lies ahead can get rocky. It will help for everyone to be on the same page by having a candid conversation to gain a clear view of the life and health of the church. These are not easy questions to ask because they demand honest evaluation, and they will reveal any elephants in the room. But the answers to these questions will help the leaders guide the church through this challenging period.
So fasten your seat-belt and work through the following together: