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 A Report from the Director MAY 19, 2010 

Update May 19, 2010The Four Stages of a Pastoral Transition

A time of transition for a pastor can be both exciting and terrifying. The possibility of a new start with its challenges and opportunities brings anticipation. Yet leaving the known for the unknown also brings anxiety. Such transition is more complex than may be immediately apparent. As pastors are dealing with both personal and professional transitions, there are also congregations going through their own transitions.

What we know about clergy moving from one setting to another is that all pastors have the best of intentions, but many do not give adequate thought to those best practices for leaving and beginning that can help ensure a good transition for everyone involved. In planning for a transition, it is helpful to think of the Stages of a Pastoral Move and what is needed for each stage to go well to advance the mission of all churches involved.

  1. Leaving begins when a pastor learns that he or she will be moving to a new ministry and continues through the day of the actual relocation.

  2. Entry begins on the day the pastor arrives at the new location and usually continues for about six months. Keep in mind that transition begins before the move and continues after the move. The change of formal position can be marked by a date — but transition is a more internal and emotional process for everyone involved.

  3. The Start Up Period usually extends from about six to eighteen months as the pastor builds credibility and comes to understand more of God’s calling for the congregation’s next faithful step.

  4. The First Chapter is a multi-year period of pastoral ministry coming out of pastoral and congregational discernment in which the current challenges and opportunities are addressed, thus providing the foundation on which other chapters can be built.

The Lewis Center for Church Leadership has provided training and resources for pastoral transitions for a number of years. Drawing on these years of research and training, the Lewis Center has just released two new resources:

  • The Right Start: Beginning Ministry in a New Setting is a video learning resource for pastors preparing to move — with both individual and group training versions.

  • 50 Ways to Welcome a New Pastor is a free resource with suggestions for congregations receiving a new pastor.

It is our prayer that these resources (see details below) will contribute to an excellent transition for pastors and congregations alike.  We hope pastors can celebrate and offer thanks for a ministry that is ending, in order to begin in a new setting with both confidence and humility, always remembering that this move involves the pastor — but is not primarily about the pastor.  It is about how the pastor and the congregation together can fulfill God’s purpose through the church.  May God bless all of you who are changing churches or pastors in these important days.

Lovett H. Weems, Jr.

New Resource for Pastors who are Moving

The Right StartThe Right Start: Beginning Ministry in a New Setting is a video-based learning resource designed to assist individual pastors as they prepare to finish their ministry with people in one place and move to a new setting. It includes DVD instructional segments, along with CD resources, planning aids, and supplementary materials on the following subjects: stages of a pastoral move; leaving well and preparing the way; entry into a new setting; the start-up period; the emotional dimensions of transitions; and formulating a personal transition plan. The Pastor’s Version is available for $59. A Group Training Version with a wide array of training and facilitation aids is available for $199. It is intended for conferences and other judicatories who offer group sessions for pastors preparing to move. Click here to order or learn more about these resources.

New Free Resource for Congregations Receiving a New Pastor

Welcoming a new pastor in genuine and effective ways lays the groundwork for a healthy and vital relationship and for the development of stable, long-term ministries together. A new, free resource from the Lewis Center, 50 Ways to Welcome a New Pastor, provides suggestions to help your congregation receive a new pastor with a spirit of openness and hospitality.

It is the latest addition to the Lewis Center’s popular 50 Ways Series — a collection of tip sheets with concise, actionable ideas that congregations can use to strengthen their ministry.

Looking for "Second Pastors" of New Church Starts

The Lewis Center has been engaged to study the experience of pastors who followed the founding pastors of congregations. The Center needs a large pool of these "second pastors" to invite to complete an online survey. If you fit this category or you know of pastors who do, please send the following information to Joe Arnold, Research Manager, jearnold@wesleyseminary.edu: name and currect email of each second pastor, his or her current email address, the church where the person was the second pastor. Thanks for your help.

Apply for a Lilly Clergy Renewal Grant

Lilly Endowment Clergy RenewalThe Lilly Endowment, Inc., has announced the details of its 2010 National Clergy Renewal Program. This program provides renewal grants for pastors, allowing them to step away from the daily obligations of parish life and pursue a period of exploration and reflection.

The endowment plans to provide as many as 150 grants of up to $50,000 each to congregations to support a renewal program for their pastor. Up to $15,000 of the amount may be used for congregational expenses associated with the renewal program. Applications are available at http://www.lillyendowment.org/religion_ncr.html. Completed applications must be submitted by June 21, 2010.

Update is a monthly report to subscribers of Leading Ideas
on the work of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.

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