I am presently serving as a Transition Pastor. Some might wonder what that is, or why a church might need one. Many of you reading this are part of a church, and may be part of the leadership that needs to determine next steps after a pastor leaves.
When a pastor resigns and leaves his church, the church needs to determine next steps. Some questions to consider would be:
- Should we immediately look for a new pastor?
- What kind of pastor do we need next?
- Should we get a Transition Pastor?
- Are there things we need to work on to be ready for a new pastor?
A Transition Pastor
A Transition Pastor serves in the time between a church’s last pastor and the next one they will hire. He will generally sign a contract for nine months up to two years. The Transition Pastor’s main role is to make sure the church is healthy and ready for the next part of their journey, before hiring the next pastor.
Another role is to help the church say goodbye to the previous pastor and some of the experiences of the past. If the pastor who left was deeply loved by the congregation, and if he served there for a long time, a new pastor coming in immediately would probably be regularly compared to the last pastor. I have had that experience in a few churches I served. A Transition Pastor can be a buffer, helping the church move on from the last pastor and be ready to accept the next one.
If there was a lot of pain and heartache that caused the previous pastor to leave in turmoil, the Transition Pastor can help the church heal and move on from that experience so they are ready to accept the next pastor God sends their way. This is part of the process of ensuring the church is heathy and ready to move on.
The Transition Pastor can also bring consistency to the congregation while they are looking for their next pastor. Instead of bringing in different local people to preach every Sunday, he provides consistent leadership that takes the load from the Leadership Board that volunteers to serve with already busy lives of their own.
If you are part of a church that is in between pastors, I would highly recommend hiring a Transition pastor. They will help you say goodbye to the previous pastor and that chapter of the church. They will help you be healthy and ready for the next chapter. The Transition Pastor can focus in on the issues that will bring health in a way that a new pastor can’t, as they are responsible to deal with all aspects of the church.
The Transition Pastor is a trained specialist who can address much needed assessing and re-visioning that not every pastor is equipped to do.
The Transition Coach
Not every church that is between pastors will hire a Transition Pastor. Sometimes they opt to go with a Transition Coach. Churches that choose this option usually have others in the church that can continue to preach most Sundays and look after pastoral care of the congregation. This would most likely be a multi-staff church that may be looking for their next Lead Pastor while still having other staff running many aspects of the church.
The Transition Coach will do many of the same assessments and work through similar processes with the Elders, staff, and congregation. He will not be there every Sunday but will show up occasionally to work through different steps of the process. And he will be guiding the whole process, even suggesting topics or themes to address in the preaching. The one concern I have about choosing a Transition Coach is that this person is not as closely connected or intimately in tune with what is going on in the church in the way an on-site Transition Pastor is.
Are you in between pastors? Then consider hiring a Transition Pastor. You will benefit greatly!
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*Click this link to connect with Andy about Transition ministry.
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