How To Survive A Ministry Transition

Still relishing the warmth of my blankets, I am snuggled among my down pillows willing the sun not to rise. I need time to slow down. I need a chance to catch my breath. My life is moving more quickly than I can keep up, it seems.

Although my husband and I felt God calling us to begin a new ministry, Courage To Lead, long ago, the details of our transition have piled up all at once, and my mind is spinning with all that I want to say and do here at Mountain Lake Church in my final days.

Passing the baton of leadership for the church we planted isn’t easy for us or for our church family. A myriad of administrative details must be addressed, and finding a successor feels like choosing a new parent to raise our child. Our top priority in this time, however, has been the spiritual health and outlook of our church body and our ministry team. Transitioning from one lead pastor to another has its challenges, and churches sometimes suffer through the process.

Knowing that many of you have walked a similar road in your own ministry journeys, allow me to encourage and challenge you with the tips I gave my own team. Check them out!

5 Ways To Make A New Pastor’s Wife On Your Team Feel Welcomed:

  1. Help her get acclimated to our community. Share the names of doctors, dentists, and hair stylists. Tell her the best places to shop and your favorite restaurants. A new community can feel strange…help her connect!
  2. Mail her a welcome note or send a simple housewarming gift. Moving to a new city involves tons of stress. A sweet surprise will put a much needed smile on her face!
  3. Speak to her every weekend in the lobby. Go out of your way to find her. She doesn’t have friends, yet, so show her the love that would help her feel secure.
  4. Get to know her. Ask her about her family background, what she likes to do, and how she uses her gifts in the church. Play a sneaky game of “20 Questions” with her if you have to! Invite her out for coffee or lunch and laugh with her a while.
  5. Pray for her. I’ve been blessed by a few prayer warriors in our church who have consistently interceded for my family. Be a prayer warrior for the new leaders. Help them become exactly who God desires them to be!

5 Ways to Pastor The Church Family Through A Transition:

  1. Be present. Stand in the lobby for 15 minutes after attending a weekend service in order to mix and mingle. Being available for questions, hugs, prayer, and warm conversations allows people to feel secure during the transition. Standing beside our husbands also conveys a sense of partnership that speaks VOLUMES to others.
  2. Serve. Continue leading by example in worship and in ministry areas. Model the way for people and recruit them to serve, as well. Be diligent in helping others use their gifts to build a strong church!
  3. Smile. Be mindful of our facial expressions and allow our personalities to show on our faces! Remember, we are helping to foster a safe place for people to connect with God and others. Be a stellar host!
  4. Encourage. Catch people doing what is right and celebrate it! Write notes, fist bump someone, compliment a volunteer in front of others, thank people for serving, celebrate a life that God has changed. Never squander the opportunity we have to encourage others to keep fighting the good fight of our faith. Be a proactive encourager!
  5. Leverage social media. Post a Scripture, a reminder for an upcoming church event, a picture of people enjoying fellowship, or a snapshot of worship. Use social media to motivate excitement for God and for the church. People ALWAYS need to be reminded that God and His church are good!

5 Ways To Manage Your Emotions Through A Transition:

  1. Stay calm. God is not wringing His Hands as He wonders what will become of His church or of your life. He has a plan; He has all along. Don’t allow your mind to panic as you fear what the future could hold. Remain calm. There is no better place to be than in the Hand of God.
  2. Stay confident. How many times has God proven Himself in Scripture? In your life? In the lives of those around you? Has God – even one time – ever let you down? Ever lured you out to the middle of the ocean only to let you drown? NO! So, stay confident. This church and our ministries belong to Him, and He is in control.
  3. Talk to your husband. Share your feelings and worries. God will use those conversations to embolden both you and your husband.
  4. Serve. Now is not the time to shrink back from serving God! If you want to hear from Him, move closer to Him. Join Him in His activity!
  5. Pray. Talking to God (and listening!) strengthens us. God encouraged me with this verse:

    Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.” (Daniel 10:19 NLT)

Have you experienced a ministry leadership transition? What encouragement would you offer a fellow pastor’s wife or friend in ministry?

Published September 24, 2015