A “transition” is defined as a passage from one state, circumstance, person or place to another, a neutral zone between endings and new beginnings.
Churches, ministries and ministers are in a constant state of movement, development or change from one form, stage, structure or style to another. The impact of these transitions on staff, leaders and members is physical and psychological, mental and emotional, internal and external, real and perceived.
During transitions it is natural for people to experience feelings of anger, fear, uncertainty, sadness and loss. Often there is a disorientation, a lack of progress and decline in productivity.
But transitions can also be a rich and exciting time of anticipation, discovery, introspection and reorientation to God’s preferred future. During transitions people are more likely to engage in transparent conversations and be open to the changes in thinking and doing that must take place before they can successfully step through the threshold to new beginnings.
Transitions can be a time for clarifying uniqueness, developing a new identity and experiencing fresh energy, experiences and relationships as people discover a renewed sense of God’s purpose and plans. It can provide an opportunity for restructuring, reengineering and removing the obstacles that inhibit needed change.
Approaching times of transition with an intentionality can help people understand, accept and embrace personal and organizational change. Yet, too frequently church leaders have neither the time, training or experience to maximize times of transition.
Therefore, enlisting a skilled third party to provide transitional support and guidance can enhance readiness for change and increase the likelihood of a successful new beginning.
The Sacred Structures approach to guiding congregations and ministers through transitions involve Process, Preparation and People. Process includes a series of action steps and assessments, Preparation involves various learning and training forums and People requires listening.
1. Pastor Transition: Maximizing the interim time between Pastors by preparing and making changes that increase the likelihood the new Pastor will be successful; first 100 days mentor-coaching of the new Pastor. Involves facilitated group listening sessions, individual group listening sessions, assessments and surveys to provide church leadership and Pastor Search Committee with a comprehensive written report of how the congregation perceives the following aspects of church life:
PURPOSE: A summary of how the congregation views the church’s God ordained purpose and the obstacles to fulfilling that purpose, through the lens of unique:
1) Opportunities: Our church’s unique local opportunities
2) Capabilities: Our church’s unique gifts, strengths, talents and capabilities
3) Passions: Our church’s unique passions that energize and move us deeply
4) Concerns: Our church’s unique challenges, fears and concerns
5) Dreams: Our church’s unique hopes and dreams
PROCESSES: A summary of the perceptions of how the five core church organizational processes are functioning:
1) Planning: Long Range and Annual
2) Budgeting: Budget Process and Alignment with Mission, Vision and Strategy
3) Personnel: Staff Hiring, Performance Management, Evaluation and Compensation
4) Governance: Boards, Committees and Teams
5) Communications: Internal and External
PROGRAMS: A summary of the perceptions of how the four core church strategy processes are functioning:
1) Connecting to Christ: Core strategies for outreach, assimilation, evangelism, missions
2) Grounding in Worship: Core strategies for prayer and worship
3) Growing in Discipleship: Core strategies for spiritual growth
4) Going in Service: Core strategies for serving others and the church
PARADIGMS: A summary of the perceived staff, leadership and congregational patterns of thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that impact church health:
1) Change: Receptivity to change
2) Engagement: Involvement in serving, worship, discipleship and body life
3) Trust: Evidence of competency, character and communication
PEOPLE: A summary of the perceptions of church staff:
1) Performance: Ability to meet minimal standards of work performance
2) Culture: Staff values, relationships, attitudes and behaviors
3) Structure: Staff organizational structure
Methodologies: The tools and techniques used to gather information and ascertain perceptions:
1) Group Listening Sessions: Facilitated forums with select groups of church staff, ministry leaders and members
2) Individual Listening Sessions: Face to face interviews with select individuals from the staff, leadership and congregation
3) Surveys: Written closed in and multiple choice questions electronically distributed to targeted demographics
4) 360 Degree Reviews: Anonymously and electronically generated feedback on each staff member from Supervisors, Subordinates, Peers and Ministry Leaders
Recommended Action Steps: If desired, the Transition Consultant will recommend potential action steps in each area identified for improvement.
Implementation of Recommendations: If desired, the Transition Consultant will be available to facilitate implementation of the agreed upon recommendations prior to the arrival of the new pastor and/or in collaboration with the new pastor upon his arrival.
2. Executive Pastor Transition: Maximizing the interim time between Executive Pastors, or modeling the role prior to calling the church’s first Executive Pastor by serving in an Interim Executive Pastor capacity; first 100 days mentor-coaching of the new Executive Pastor.
3. Staff Transition: Evaluating staff structures and developing new staff positions; equipping staff with the new paradigms and skills necessary to grow and lead well into the future.
4. Church Life Cycle Transition: Defining and implementing the paradigms, attitudes, skills, behaviors, and initiatives necessary to create upward “S” growth curves in a church’s life cycle.
5. Change Transition: Providing processes and systems for creating a culture of change, tools and techniques for mitigating the negative impact of change, and principles and practices for successful leading and managing change.
6. Governance Transition: Working with staff and lay leaders to research, define, communicate, and implement new forms of church polity.
7. Facility Transition: Determining with staff, architects, and building committees the strategy, structure, and design changes required to maximize new facilities.
8. Career Transition: Coaching and mentoring through the career or job change decision making process and the adjustment to new opportunities, responsibilities, roles and relationships.
9. Spiritual Transition: Coaching, mentoring, and partnering into a broader and deeper understanding of relationships to God, self, and others.