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)
Those last 5 words are powerful: Time in erodes awareness of. The difficulty for church leaders, who are tasked with handling a pastoral transition, is to see the changes that need to be made for the future health and vitality of that body of believers.
The hindrance to really seeing can be conscious or sub-conscious.
- We all have the natural tendency to not see what is in plain sight. When was the last time you stood with the refrigerator door open not seeing what you want? Finally your spouse points it out to you, and it was right there all the time!
- In some cases, out of a sense of loyalty (typically misguided) to the former pastor, there is an unwillingness to consider making any changes. Wouldn’t it make me a traitor?
- Or, because an approach has worked well in the past, why change it? (By the way, are you still using film in your camera or have you gone digital? Hmmm.)
If your senior pastor has left, God has changes to introduce.
And it doesn’t matter why or how your senior pastor departed. You may be delighted or disturbed by his departure. The church may be grasping Kleenex or throwing confetti. Either way, the fact that he is gone is a sign that there are significant changes the Lord has in mind for your church.
What changes? What are we talking about? Where do things need to be different? Ah, and that’s right where the fresh eyes of an intentional interim pastor come in.
Andy Stanley highlights the importance of this,
“From time to time, we all need a set of fresh eyes on our ministry environments. Again, the longer you live somewhere, the more things tend to disappear in plain sight.” (p.172)
Here are 7 ways in which fresh eyes can help a church in pastoral transition.…
1. If there is an elephant(s) in the room.
2. If there are spiritual strong-holds in the church.
3. If there is dysfunction impeding the pursuit of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
4. If there is healing that needs to occur.
5. If there are organizational or staffing changes that need to be made.
6. If the church is focused on the rearview mirror and not the windshield.
7. If the church has its eyes turned inward and not outward.
What other ways would you suggest fresh eyes can help a church in pastoral transition? Leave your comment below.