I have been on staff at six churches. That six moves, six homes, six moving trucks, six new addresses, six new telephone numbers, six...you get the idea. I think the most uneasy transitions are those WITHIN the church. We claim to be "change-agents" and are even lead by the Great Commission to "go into the entire world" and allow others to see Jesus in us so that they might...you know, CHANGE. Going through and helping lead changes and transitions in churches I would say I am fair to good at it (those who don't like the changes I have made would probably disagree with that). One of my favorite hobbies is ready and studding how to be more effective in ministry, specifically student ministry. I have found eight ways to help have a smoother transition for making changes in the ministry you lead. Remember, these are not original and they are not guaranteed. They are simply ways that have helped me in the past and will continue to change and develop over time.
1. Promote the vision, Promote the vision, Promote the Vision.
When people know and catch the vision, it’s like a bad cause of the flu; it is hard to get rid of and yes, at times will make you sick. If you are excited about the vision, others will soon follow in your excitement.
2. Get excited.
Romans 12:11 reminds us to serve the Lord enthusiastically! If I cannot find joy in what God has put in front of me then I am in the wrong area and need to reevaluate either my ministry or my agendas.
3. Lead the Leaders.
Every ministry has volunteer leaders that people respect and are willing to follow and trust because of their longevity or influence. These are critical people to have on board with the vision. Influential leaders can make or break transitions.
4. Pray for the pain.
Every transition causes some pain, there are no exceptions. Comfort and the familiar are the biggest obstacle to overcome in order to create change. Be there and pray for those people who will struggle through the pain and hurt. Care for them and encourage them to ask for God to guide and direct them so they might work with the transition or find a new area to minister in (sometimes causing another transition).
5. Honor the past.
No matter how you feel personally about the past, it has allowed you to be at the present moment that is allowing a transition. Look for the good, don’t focus on the negative. Speak well of those who came before you, remember, this isn’t a popularity contest.
6. Seek wisdom.
Look to those who have gone through transitions and ask them to help you be proactive and not reactive in potential pitfalls. Do your homework and pray without ceasing! Surround yourself with those people who will encourage, pray for and support you during the difficult times.
7. Share the stories.
Share the stories of life change that are a result of other transitions within your ministry and church. Ask people to listen for similar stories so they begin to notice the many ways God is working.
8. See it through.
There will be opposition and failures. Don’t stop, keep moving forward and see the transition through. Those leaders who have made changes and gone through difficult transitions have not allowed setbacks or opposition to discourage them to the point of quitting.
Praying all your transitions are smooth!