By Doug Harris
Special greetings to our present and prospective transitional pastors, denominational leaders and interested friends.
Transitional Leadership Ministries is not built on a “hold the fort” philosophy of ministry, but rather on the premise that positive, significant and meaningful change can occur during the period of senior leadership transition. We recommend that transitional pastors and church boards set eight objectives to be achieved during the transition process.
Our first objective is to facilitate “closure”. In Israel’s wilderness transition, the leadership baton was passed from the venerable patriarch, Moses, to the military leader, Joshua. Joshua 1:1,2,5,6 says:
“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, 2“My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all these people, into the land that I am giving to them.... As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 6Be strong and courageous; for you shall put these people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them.”
Whether or not the immediate past of the church has been happy or sad, it is essential that at the beginning of the transition process the church deliberately closes the door on its past and opens the door to its God-given future. The old leader is gone and God has already selected His “Joshua” to lead the people into that promised good land that lies before them.
As a new face and new voice on the scene, the transitional pastor is in a unique position to facilitate this closure process. Closure is a decision. He can encourage it through the preaching ministry. While it is appropriate and necessary to emphasize positives from the past, he must create enthusiasm for the future: in both the short-term and long-term. While there may well be issues from the past that need to be resolved, he should begin organizing for the future immediately. A planning process can be adopted and a planning committee struck. He can lead the church to thank God for its past and move forward deliberately and with focus into the future. With the enabling of the Holy Spirit he can help the church say what the Apostle Paul said:
“Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”
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