|Pastoral Transitions 101|
Yet, I’ve seen these same men inadvertently bring their church to the brink of ruin. They are good preachers, caring counselors, and men of prayer, yet their church suffered. These pastors followed the play book, but their church nearly closed the doors. It wasn’t on purpose. They never meant any harm to come. But they sat and watched as the church they loved crumbled. The weakness was not in how they served the church, but how they left the church.
Having witnessed the negative impact of a very selfish pastoral transition before I resolved to do everything I could to never "ruin a congregation" by leaving in a less than exemplary manner; (On a more positive and happy note, having recently experienced the benefits of another Senior Pastor's graciousness to me I am striving to follow "the golden rule.")
Here are a few things I have done in effort to try and help maintain the spiritual momentum here. Our desire should be to do everything we can to help set up the next guy to succeed (whoever that may be):
1) Write a personal letter to each member and regular attendee. In this note identify evidences of grace and thank them for their commitment. Share your heart, highlight the path forward, and encourage them to fix their eyes on Christ. Remind them that God is faithful and can always be trusted. Keep reminding them and yourself that Jesus cares about His Church more than every believer combined.
2) Continue to shepherd the flock faithfully and to preach the Word diligently all the way until your very last day. If you are getting paid for what you do and love the people in your flock, how could you do any less? This isn't rocket science: 1) start strong- 2) run the race with endurance- 3) and finish well (1 Corinthians 10:31).