Are you familiar with transitional leadership?

It is often confused with the term ‘interim’ or can be misplaced with a type of placeholder between pastors for the local church. It is so much more! Churches need to focus on the process of growth and health, rather than to simply fill a role or time. I invite you to take a moment and review the possibilities of what it means to walk your church or organization through transitional leadership.

A transitional leader walks with the church in a very direct manner, over a short period of time, to their next chapter in God’s story for them.

Particularly with an outgoing pastor, a church needs to take time to understand why they exist and where they are going. This can be a short period of reflection, or an extended time of assessment and renewal. But gaining vision is the key, especially if “we’ve always done it this way”.

A transitional ministry helps restore health and reconciliation where things are broken.

An ending can naturally come with some hurt. Or it can come with a lot of hurt. Hurt that is often hidden under the surface, especially when the hurtful actions feel normal in the church community. Taking time to face hurts and broken relationships is part of our gospel story, and it is good to take time through transition for this purpose.

A transitional ministry is not only for churches at the end of their rope.

It is an opportunity for any and every church to take a look in the mirror, rejoice in what God has been up to in the past, and discern where he is leading into the future. Every church needs this from time to time!

Is your church or denomination in need of a transitional leader for any of the above? I would love to start the conversation if that is the case.

3 Basic Questions to Begin:

  1. Do you know what needs to change?
  2. Are you prepared to make changes as necessary?
  3. Is there a unified sense of this need within your congregation/leadership?

Transitional Assessment and Coaching Sessions

Through an initial conversation you may decide a shorter format is helpful at this point, or maybe a series of workshops/discussions for your congregation or team. I can accommodate this as well. I have led some through discussions on vision and strategy, assessing past assumptions, and communication. Healthy leadership is key to a good communication, so I also offer my services to you for the purpose of coaching and walking with your team.

Focus:     Transitional coaching for church leadership in preparation of pastoral hire or to discern health and growth going forward.

Timeline:            Regular meetings; weekends or evenings; 3 months maximum

Investment:       Begins with base amount and final costs determined by budget and size of group

Individual Steps: Workshops or sessions that stand alone or can be done in sequence; evaluate after each component

  1. Introduction and focus conversation with leadership. Establish baseline for upcoming conversations.
  2. Intentional time of prayer and discernment with congregation or focus group
    1. Could be a retreat or a set of meetings for clarity
    2. May also be focused on a topic or issue needing resolution
    3. Follow-up with a ‘listening’ document of insights and further work that may help
  3. Church congregation assessment (Available to congregation – discussed with leadership)
    1. Purpose: How clearly have values/mission/vision been expressed as a church?
    2. To develop a baseline of how the church body sees itself. Focus on current ministry and reflection on mission and vision.
    3. Personalized survey that comes from our previous conversations and fits your church’s setting
    4. Link sent by email and made available through your church website
    5. Results and insights compiled for you and discussed at follow-up meeting
  4. Mission and direction assessment/discussion
    1. Purpose: To bring clarity to how you are working towards fulfilling your mission now
    2. Discuss verbalized mission/vision of the church as it is understood
    3. How mission is seen in congregation and within those leading
    4. Evaluate how ministry is implemented and its impact
    5. Handout for guided discussion and prayerful thought before meeting
    6. Follow-up meeting to discuss next steps
  5. Tool for determining ministry effectiveness
    1. Purpose: Provide a simple format to start new ministry and evaluate what is being done
    2. Evaluation and Discussion: Faithful, Fruitful, Fulfilling (Cousins)
    3. Provides the foundation for each ministry in clear statements that all involved can work from
    4. Best suited to have all those involved in church ministries in the conversation
    5. 5 ‘P’s – Prayer, people, purpose, priorities, plan
  6. Church identity discussion
    1. Purpose: Broader understanding of how you identify yourselves as you look forward
    2. PTA model: Possibilities, Tensions, Anchors
    3. Works as a solid piece to identify where God has placed you as you introduce yourself to others. (Pastoral search, new ministries, etc.)
    4. Follow-up meeting to discuss next steps
  7. Follow-up conversation on discussion material or further sessions as deemed necessary based on our conversations.

Long Format Transitional Outline:

Timeframe: 9-24 months; ¾ time maximum; contract terms to be negotiated

  1. Congregational introduction to process ahead
  2. Survey – Who are you and where have you been?
    1. All members and adherents
    2. Online and paper format
    3. Results presented at 2nd congregational meeting/townhall
  3. Part I – Health (Foundation)
    1. Prayer – Every member challenged to accept prayer commitment for first month
    2. Elders/Board – Monthly meetings
      1. Prayer
      2. Updates
      3. Questions
      4. Homework
      5. Direction for year: Faithful, Fruitful, Fulfilling (Cousins)
    3. Ministry Teams – Quarterly
      1. Will meet with all committees to discuss key questions of mission and practice up to this point.
      2. Discuss structure
      3. How are the values expressed through this ministry?
      4. What are the marks of serving at __________________? How do you create ministry?
      5. What is needed but not present?
    4. Congregation – Monthly/Stages
      1. Survey: Current and past understanding; before all other matters 
      2. Intentional prayer journey
      3. Preaching – Progress and Reflection
      4. Townhall Meetings
      5. Understand your story, let the Spirit guide the next chapter
  4. Part II – Evaluation & Enjoinment (Direction)
    1. Elders/Board
      1. Define purpose and desired outcomes of leadership
      2. Discuss implementation of mission for congregation
      3. Develop strategy for next steps
    2. Ministry Leadership
      1. Define how values are expressed in ministry
      2. Discuss how new ministries are created and blessed
      3. Develop working vision for future ministry
    3. Congregation
      1. Define what best suits the body for the future
      2. Discuss and clarify each stage of discussion with leadership
      3. Develop a culture of health within, service in discipleship, kingdom focus
    4. White Paper
      1. Clear Mission and Vision based on Values
      2. Working pieces of strategy that define forward direction for all future ministries
      3. Hopeful statements of Mission taking form
      4. Prayer items and goals for where __________________ hopes to be in 3 years
  5. Part III – Process (outcomes)
    1. Elders/Board – Discern next steps for church
    2. Defined clearly, initial action steps need to be taken
    3. Staffing and organizational mapping for presentation
    4. Congregation – Walk through next steps, discuss, and voting where necessary
  6. New wine skins (Potential final portion)
    1. Pastor – Co-ordinate search and interview process (4-6 weeks)
    2. Pastoral ‘hand off’ – Welcoming and assisting the transition (2 weeks)
    3. Church transformation – Greater shifts in the body and governance without staff (8-10 weeks)