Pastoral Transition Tools – Transition Timeline

I have come to understand that the planning and execution of a pastoral transition can make a significant difference in the fruitfulness of both a pastor and congregation in the months ahead. There are a number of resources that I have used to develop tools which I have used in transition. You can find these and more of my writing on pastoral transitions here. Also, I commend these books to you that I have found to be helpful during a pastoral transition (Amazon affiliate links):

This is a draft timeline of key events in the farewell process for the congregation and outgoing pastor. It is compiled from the resources above and from my own experience. While each event may not be appropriate for every setting, I hope that you find it helpful.

Transition Announcement – As It Occurs

Announce the appointment of the current pastor to serve a new congregation and the appointment of the incoming pastor to serve the current congregation in worship and by email.

Transition Team – 12 Weeks Out

Identify a team that will tend to the transition for about 6 months. It may include members of the staff parish team as well as others. This team will help make these farewell opportunities happen and help create a network of support for the incoming pastor.

Farewell Letter – 10 Weeks Out

The outgoing pastor writes a letter to the congregation to offer care during transition, celebrate time together, and clarifying roles and responsibilities for the months ahead. It may be delivered by email, postal mail, or regular newsletter.

Exit Interview – 9 Weeks Out

The outgoing pastor and staff parish team share an informal conversation about the pastor’s tenure. Create space to share joys, concerns, hurts, blessings, accomplishments, and work left undone. The purpose of this conversation is learning for both congregation and pastor.

Sharing Memories – 8 Weeks Out

Create the opportunity for congregants to share memories of the outgoing pastor and family (if applicable). There may be cards made available to share written memories, invitation to share photos, and / or other items.

Fun Facts – 6 Weeks Out

Begin sharing a few fun facts about the incoming pastor during worship each week to provide additional introduction. This may be done in a fun, light-hearted way.

Farewell Event and Meal – 4 Weeks Out

Create the opportunity for congregation and pastor to share a meal together. It may be a potluck meal. During this time make space for sharing the way that God has been at work during their time together, remembering significant moments, and offer blessings for the future. This event is planned on the Sunday before the pastor’s final Sunday to help make it possible for congregants who may be away to participate in farewell events.

“Pass the Mantle” in Worship – 3 Weeks Out

As one of the final acts of worship on the outgoing pastor’s final Sunday, the pastor offers a tangible item to a lay leader. It may be placed in the sanctuary as a visible sign of pastoral transition. The item could be something, such as, a study bible, cup and plate for communion, stole, or other sign of the pastoral role.

First Sunday for Incoming Pastor – 0 Weeks Out

During worship, the incoming pastor may receive the item left in the sanctuary by the outgoing pastor.

Pastoral Transition Tools – Pastor to Pastor Debrief

I have come to understand that the planning and execution of a pastoral transition can make a significant difference in the fruitfulness of both a pastor and congregation in the months ahead. There are a number of resources that I have used to develop tools which I have used in transition. You can find these and more of my writing on pastoral transitions here. Also, I commend these books to you that I have found to be helpful during a pastoral transition (Amazon affiliate links):

The Pastor to Pastor Debrief occurs between the outgoing and incoming pastor. There are a number of questions, practicalities, and knowledge about the workings of the congregation that can be incredibly helpful to pass from one pastor to the next. Here is an outline of a Pastor to Pastor Debrief that I have used as a guide during my pastoral transitions. It is compiled from the resources above and some additions of my own. While every question may not be appropriate for every setting, this provides an outline to cover some of the most important topics. Enjoy!

Worship

  • Particular traditions and styles
  • Attendance trends
  • Recent controversies
  • Preaching style
  • Time issues
  • Important traditions
  • Seasonal variations
  • Special services
  • Who is involved in planning worship?
  • Are any new services being planned?
  • What is the role of clergy and laity during worship?
  • What is the role of children and youth in worship?
  • Is there children’s worship during the main worship services?
  • Is there a children’s message in the service? If so, who is responsible for the children’s message?
  • How is the bulletin and / or presentation prepared? Who is involved? What is the timleine for completion each week?
  • How does the church conduct the sacraments? When is communion offered and by what means?
  • Are tehre ecumenical community worship events? When?

Grow

  • Adult education / formation programs
  • Children’s education / formation programs
  • Youth education / formation programs
  • Important new programs that need support
  • Older programs that are important
  • Seasonal traditions

Serve

  • Board role
  • Commitee structure
  • Meeting cycles
  • Annual program calendar
  • Report formats
  • Facility issues and policies
  • Keys and access issues
  • Alarm system

Personnel

  • Staff structure
  • Job descriptions
  • Evaluation processes
  • Staff meetings and agenda
  • Staff issues
  • Recent hires and terminations
  • Training and coaching
  • Are any staff positions currently vacant?
  • Are any staff changes needed or expected?

Buildings and Grounds

  • How are building items and maintenance handled? Who orders supplies? Is there a custodian? What are her / his hours?
  • What community groups use the buildgin?

Information Technology

  • Describe the computer network. Is it wireless? Is the pastor provided with a computer? What kind?
  • Does the church have a web page? If so, who maintains it?
  • What are the appropriate passwords the pastor needs to know? How will the pastor’s email be set up?
  • Who knows about the church’s membership and financial software?

Give

  • Fundraising approaches
  • Giving patterns and records
  • Financial trends
  • Financial issues
  • Are there any tenure-bridging financial issue?
  • Are there any tenure-bridging capital issues?
  • What is the normal stewardship process in this church?
  • Who is in charge of promoting stewardship in the church?
  • What is the number of pledging and non-peldging households?
  • What is the average financial contribution of each member family to the church?
  • What is the pastor’s expected role in stewardship campaigns?
  • Does the church have a permanent endowment fund? If so, what is it used for and how is it funded?

Share

  • What is the church’s primary method of communication with its member? What percentage of the church membership uses electronic communication (email, text, interet, etc.)?
  • How often does the church newsletter come out? How is it distributed? What does the pastor need to prepare for the newsletter?
  • How does the church communicate with the community? What kind of advertising does teh church do?

Care

  • Lay care team
  • Names of terminally ill
  • Names of bereaved in last twelve months
  • Patterns of pastoral care
  • What agencies or resources are available for those who may call with needs for emergency food, clothing, shelter, or assistance?
  • What families are currently experiencing loss, illness, or special needs?
  • Who are the homebound members? Is there a regular ministry in place for them?

Pastoral

  • Unusual expectations of pastor
  • Is there a ministerial assocaition in the community? Provide contact information.

Church Climate

  • How warm are church members to one another? To new people?
  • How is the morale in this church?
  • How open is this church to change?
  • What are the significant conflicts in the church?
  • How central is faith to members’ lives?
  • How conservative or liberal is this church?
  • How diverse is this church theologically, ethnically, and demographically?
  • Where are the landmines?

People

  • Who is angry at the church?
  • Who is angry at the pastor?
  • Who are important allies?
  • Who can’t be trusted?
  • Who has an agenda?
  • Who will keep confidences?
  • Who is in danger of burning out?
  • Who is undersused?
  • Who has recently retired?
  • Who are the five most influential persons in the church?
  • Who are the saints?

Documents to Include

  • Copy of the church’s vision / mission statement
  • Most recent minutes of all-church conferences or meetings
  • Church directory, annotated with information about relationships, pastoral care nees, and potential leaders
  • Church email list
  • Organizational chart and list of church lay leaders and committee members
  • Church policies for weddings, funerals, building use, employee handbook, etc.
  • Current and last two years of budget reports
  • Latest month’s financial statement
  • Last three church newsletters
  • Recent bulletins for each worship service
  • Bulletins for most recent Christmas Eve and Easter services, as well as other special services that are routinely part of the church’s life
  • Church keys

2010 Resurrection Online Micro Church Leader Training

I have continued to pitch micro churches as a way of finding renewal within The United Methodist Church and building Christian communities where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians. I am currently working on training leaders to launch these faith communities. I hope that by the end of August there will be three micro churches worshiping regularly. I want to share with you the documents and presentation that I am using as a guide to train these leaders.

These continue to be works in progress. I am working on a document now to address sacraments and will post in a later post when it is prepared. Will you please take a look at these documents and offer your response, ideas or opinions?

I am excited for the potential that exists for micro churches to create new places for new people to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

Qualifications and Expectations of a Micro Church Leader

This is a very rough draft of a document which may guide the life of Resurrection micro church leaders. Will you please share with me your thoughts, feelings and opinions in the comments?

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To be considered as a potential micro church leader, a person will:

  • affirm the essentials of the Christian faith, enunciated in the historic creeds believed by nearly all Christians, such as the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed
  • affirm all 15 core traits of a deeply committed Christian and be willing to grow in all areas.
  • regularly practice prayer and Bible study.
  • be able to share her or his faith story.
  • understand the importance of hospitality and showing concern for others.
  • demonstrate willingness to become a spiritual guide and care provider.
  • be passionate about discipleship and community.
  • be aware of spiritual gifts and open to exploration of them.
  • focus on what is helpful and builds up the Body of Christ, and avoid judgmental statements, name-calling, harsh labeling, and efforts to describe anyone holding a different view as “un- Christian”
  • embrace the Resurrection membership expectations.
  • agree to be held accountable to the Volunteer Leader Covenant of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.
  • have previous experience leading adults (i.e. projects, teams or groups – managing, delegation, logistics, details, etc.).
  • embrace the importance of establishing a group covenant, celebrate differences in group member’s personalities, appreciate differences in spiritual background and knowledge and be open to helping group members do the same.
  • have volunteered for ministry inside and outside a church.
  • have previous experience participating in a small group for Bible study and spiritual growth.
  • have previous experience leading group prayer.
  • have previous experience leading a Bible study.
  • have completed Disciple 1 or equivalent.

Expectations – A micro church leader will:

  • collaborate with and receive care and guidance from the Pastor for Resurrection Online.
  • collaborate and be in community with other micro church leaders.
  • facilitate the micro church worship experience.
  • communicate with each person in her or his micro church, at least once a week, to:
    • inquire how their souls prosper;
    • advise, caution, comfort or encourage as necessary.
  • commit to developing opportunities for each micro church participant to worship, grow, give and serve.
  • communicate with Resurrection at least once a week to share:
    • who are active in the life of the micro church,
    • any who are in need of additional care or guidance (i.e. illness, spiritual concern, etc.),
    • stories of life change, and
    • any technical problems or concerns.
  • look for a person who could be key in influencing a new circle of people to start the next micro church.

Leadership: Questions (1 of 3)

This post originated from an Advanced Leadership Development course that was a part of the Wesley Academy at Resurrection taught by Dr. Lovett Weems and Cathy Abbott.

Leaders do not need to have the right answers, but they must have the right questions.

  • Who can assign you work?
  • What is it that these people have a right to expect of me?
  • What is it that if I do not do it, no one else can or in all likelihood will?