What a Herd of Deer Can Teach Church Leaders about Pastoral Transition

mule deerNot 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.

Our senior pastor is gone….

  • Who is going to teach and preach on Sunday mornings?
  • Who is going to step into the leadership vacuum and make decisions?
  • What happens if people start leaving for other churches?
  • What will we do if giving drops off?
  • What will we do, giving has dropped off?
  • What kind of pastor do we need next?
  • How do we even begin to deal with the sense of loss; the hurt; the wounds; the divisiveness?

This is exactly where the right intentional interim pastor can step in and help the leadership team move forward with confidence in an uncertain season. And, to avoid the pressure of being driven by threatening circumstances. He helps the leadership team see the wonderful opportunity that is in front of them. For the transition can be a growing time for the church as…

  • The Lord gives a new sense of direction and focus.
  • Wounds are healed and relationships restored.
  • Hope is cultivated in what the Lord is going to do in the future.
  • Dysfunction is addressed so the level of spiritual health increases.
  • New leaders are trained who will support the growth of the church.
  • The body experiences a renewed sense of unity as they links arms with each other and look forward instead of back.

An experienced and trained intentional interim pastor can, by their leadership, coach and mentor a church through the transition so they launch well with a new senior pastor into a future of Christ-honoring ministry.

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