This weekend Heather and I were privileged to go back to Sulphur Springs, Texas. I had the opportunity to preach Sunday at the Shannon Oaks Church, where I was student pastor for 5 years (2004-2009).
It was amazing being back with that church family that holds a very special place in our hearts. We got to catch up with a lot of great people. Our weekend was full of hugging necks of people we lived life with, catching up with people that partnered up with us in ministry, and getting updates from students that I had the privilege to lead during our 5 years there.
The weekend felt like a big family reunion. Truly special.
When Heather and I made the decision to become the student pastor at NORTHchurch, our number one prayer was for a smooth transition. To transition from one church with the love, honor, and respect that it deserved and to transition to another church with the energy, excitement, and focus that it deserved.
Our heart’s desire was to teach truth throughout our transition: to follow after God, no matter what or where that may take you. We wanted to make sure the ministry that we poured so much of ourselves into for 5 years was in good hands for the future. We wanted to allow time for tears, remembrance, and celebration. Finally, we wanted to leave for a blessing.
God answered those prayers.
I love that I still have an amazing relationship with the Shannon Oaks Church, while being fully committed and focused at NORTHchurch.
But I know that is rare. I am very aware that healthy transition is too often considered a pie in the sky dream. I have seen pastors get chewed up and spit out by churches; I have seen pastors coldly hurt and abandon churches; and everything in between. I have seen firings, resignations, moral failures, accepting another ministry job, and leaving ministry altogether.
The question I find myself today is why? Why is healthy transition in ministry so difficult? Is the answer simply because people are imperfect? That seems like a cop out. Is the answer that people are hesitant and naturally oppose change, especially if the thing that is changing is good? Possibly.
I’m just saying that a place (the church) that is filled with so much love and understanding combined with anointed, godly men and women with gifts of communication should be able to transition healthily.
I know it is possible. I have experienced healthy transition that was communicated with love, timing, thanks, teaching, vision, and hope. I want more of my partners in ministry and their churches to experience this healthy transition.
It is time that healthy transition becomes the norm, not the exception.
Thoughts? Why is healthy transition in ministry so difficult?
(Artwork entitled “Transitions” by Sanaye)