A classic book on pastoral transitions offers guidance on how to navigate change.
In 1987, the Rev. Loren Mead, founder of the Alban Institute, wrote a guidebook on pastoral transition called “Critical Moment of Ministry: Change of Pastors.”
The book, revised in 2005 and renamed “A Change of Pastors . . . And How It Affects Change in the Congregation,” still is regarded by many experts as the leading work on helping congregations through a complicated time.
Mead summed up pastoral transition as a period of great opportunity and great vulnerability, offering guidelines and suggestions for taking advantage of a change in leadership.
Among other advice, Mead outlines five developmental tasks for congregations to undertake in the critical moment of pastoral transition:
- Coming to terms with history. Look at the congregation’s history, accomplishments, high and low points and how it got where it is today.
- Discovering a new identity. Reexamine the congregation’s mission, core values and vision.
- Allowing needed leadership change. Examine how lay leadership is practiced in the church and learn how to tap into both new and old lay leadership.
- Renewing denominational linkages. How does the congregation relate to the wider church, the denomination and other churches and ministries in the community?
- Commitment to new directions in ministry. Develop a plan for the future by building readiness for and commitment to new directions under a new pastor.