See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness.
and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19, NIV
Pastoral transitions in a church can be stressful. Change is tough, even in the best of times.
The West Virginia Conference offers various resources to pastors and congregation to assist through times of pastoral transitions. Before, during, and after.
While there are many aspects of pastoral transition, here are three key components:
- Saying goodbye. This is vitally important for everyone. Congregations, pastors, ministry leaders, pastor’s spouse and family, all of us, need an opportunity to define the ending of pastoral relationships and set each other free to begin new ones. Depending on the relationship, saying goodbye may involve offering appreciation, or asking for or offering forgiveness. It may include worship rituals and symbols that offer meaning beyond what is directly expressed.
- Leaving well. Pastors, consider now the legacy you want to leave. Even during disorientation and uncertainty, it is important that responsibilities are cared for in a way that paves the way for hopeful new beginnings. Remaining focused on the mission – to make disciples that transform the world – guides the pathway forward, for healthy endings and beginnings. Congregational leaders, you can help pastors leave well through your support in transition planning.
- Beginning well. Planning for a healthy beginning starts now. As responsibilities are cared for and goodbyes are said, the groundwork is laid for a positive transition. There may be joint introductory letters or videos that help pastors set up their successors well and aid the congregation in anticipating and praying for the transition.
As pastors and congregational leaders work together, keeping in mind these essential aspects of transition will help them navigate the impact of pastoral transition.
We encourage you to visit the conference’s online learning platform Portico where you will find more resources under the Pastoral Transitions section of the course catalog.
Please contact the Conference Superintendent’s for your area if you have any questions.