By Alan Simpson
Without a doubt the ministry of effective transitions during a leadership change is an emergent ministry. Although the words Transitional Leadership Ministry still require some education, once explained the hearers often will whistle and comment about the relevance of that kind of ministry. They might even comment that they know a church that could have used that type of intentional ministry. It might even be the church they no longer attend.
The word “emergent” has been popularized and usually means something that is rising up. The internet definitions provide us with the images of a plant that has roots under water but is mostly visible above that fluid state. I like the word emergent and the picture is conjures up. It is a fitting metaphor for the recent directorship transition that has taken place in the Transitional Leadership Ministry of Outreach Canada.
Below the visible fluid state of this ministry and the budding shoots above are the roots that God planted in the heart of a listening man – Dr. Doug Harris. Doug obeyed the call of God to serve the church by writing the vision down and running with it (Habakkuk 2:2), taking with him as many as would come along. I know that is how my heart ended up leaning into this ministry and engaging in listening to God about my involvement. It is with that understanding that I honor Doug for his demonstrated and sacrificial ‘agape’ in raising up this emergent plant called Transitional Leadership Ministries. As the new director of TLM I have been asking myself what it is that I am directing. It occurred to me that the vision has been laid, and my task is to direct the fulfillment of that vision.
I believe that TLM is an emergent ministry in two ways. First of all, it is emergent because there is an increased awareness of the value added element of healthier transitions during leadership changes. The current statistic of pastoral attrition in North America is evidence that the church is in urgent need of re-thinking and re-inventing how we manage leadership change. Change happens! It is an event. Transition is the process of managing and directing that change. Good change management can provide effective transitional processes for healthy outcomes. Transitional Leadership Ministry is in the business of training change agents in achieving eight goals for effective transitions in Christian churches and organizations. One of my current tasks as the newly appointed director is to develop a growing awareness of the availability of such training for denominational leaders, organizational leaders, and active transitional leaders.
The second way that TLM is an emergent ministry is found in the urgent and growing requirement for a functional Network of Transitional Leaders. This network will want to have the ability to recommend trained transitional leaders to the groups who require access to their special skills. There are three stages for developing the TLM Network: identify current and prospective transitional leaders, provide a means for affiliation with the network, and actively network those who have that affiliation. This will require time, travel and resources. At the present,the new director’s position that I have assumed is overshadowed with overseeing the development of this Network.
Transitional Leadership is an emergent ministry. I am thrilled that God has given us a great team that includes Dianne Boyle, administrative assistant and director of transitional leadership resources, and that retains the expertise and experience of the previous director, Doug Harris. As this ministry emerges we want to assure you that we are here to serve the church and those Christian organizations that require our services. The conclusion of the matter is found in the Scripture that states, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.” Psalm 92:12-13 May this scripture be fulfilled in this emergent ministry and in yours also.
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