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:
- What was the relationship between the pastor and the leadership team (elders, deacons, etc)? What was his relationship with the staff?
- What was the reason(s) the pastor left? Does everyone in leadership know the real reason(s)? Does the church as a whole know the real reason(s)?
- Did the leadership team and the church body have a different reaction to the pastor leaving? If so, why? What was the difference?
- Have people left because the pastor left? How many? Why did they leave? How involved were they in the ministry?
- Is other staff likely to leave in the immediate future? Are any of the current pastors going to be considered as the next pastor?
- How long has the pastor been at the church and what was the character of his tenure (especially in the last few years)?
- Where is the former pastor living now? What are his future plans? Is he attending the church? Is he still meeting with people in the church?
- How cohesive and/or united is the church? Is there any simmering or open conflict? Are there “parties” and what are the dividing-line issues?
- How capable and available is your current leadership team to manage the church and ministry details until the next pastor comes?
- Does the church have a clear sense of vision that gives direction to its ministries? Does the current leadership team have a high degree of ownership in that vision?
- Is the church generally united behind that vision?
- How does the pastor leaving impact the commitment of the church to the vision?
- What has been the history of growth in the church? What kind of growth has occurred (biological, transfer, salvation)?
- Are the leaders content with the status quo? Is the church content with the status quo?
- Do any major changes need to be made to the pastor’s job description before the next man comes? What are they? Why do those changes need to be made?
- Are there any changes in the church that need to be made before the next pastor arrives? What are they? Is everyone agreed that they need to be made? Does everyone agree that the current leadership team has the capability and availability to direct those changes?
What other key question would you suggest need to be asked. Leave your comment below.