I have just completed a transition that has led to the hiring of a pastor whom I believe will fit and serve well. As well, the congregation has been prepared for his leadership toward change and into their community with mission. A common surprise for the members was that ministry, mission, growth, maturity and bearing fruit could not merely go on but could actually increase. How does this happen?
Several years ago, a good friend told me that when their pastor abruptly left, their church’s vision and plans were literally swept from his desk and into the wastebasket. Pastoral transition can indeed be a time when the empowering breezes vanish and the sails fall limp. As a transition pastor, however, I can lead with the Word to persistently hold up the vision and stir the winds that empower the movement toward that vision.
Jesus relentlessly held up a vision of his kingdom and his call to repentance was a call to think and act in new ways. In his Sermon on the Mount, he repeatedly said, “You have heard that it was said…but I say…” Paul David Tripp, in his Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, wrote, “The central work of God’s kingdom is change.” During a transition, I can hold up the congregation’s specific kingdom vision and lead toward change through consistent weekly preaching.
All along the way, through the preaching and equipping of leaders, the breeze that propels us toward change, maturity and mission is generated by holding up the endless facets of the gospel (Rom. 1:16). And overall, the congregation sees a vision and a Savior who is worthy of their sacrifice, love and life. Solid, biblical leadership through the Word is God’s provision for the otherwise-inevitable doldrums of a transition. It is possible and it is encouraging when God powerfully works through the gospel for his glory.