Introduction to Pastoral Transitions in MCC

With growing conviction, we believe that one of the most profound moments in the life of a church happens when a pastor leaves. During this time, a church has the opportunity to embrace transition as a transformative experience rather than allow it to be destructive.

Over the last two decades, we have learned a lot about this transition time and believe that we have made constant improvements in our process. Still, we anticipate that it will continue to be a dynamic process that changes as we continue to learn.

The process is defined in four steps:

  • Healthy Leaving
  • The In Between Time
  • Pastoral Search
  • Welcoming a Settled Pastor

Some of the most important things we’ve learned in the last few years are:

  1. This is a moment where PARTNERSHIP between the local church and denomination is crucial to success. The internal lens through which the local church and its leadership views the issues of transition are essential AND the external lens through which the denomination views the issues offers a different perspective.
  2. Working together at the time a pastor leaves to assess the “state of the church” is a helpful exercise for better determining the best way forward for each individual church. There is not a one size fits all plan; this is a co-creative and collaborative process for deciding the best ways forward.
  3. Using the appointment system for Transitional Pastor placements and the call system for electing Settled Pastors seems to utilize the best of both systems.
  4. Having gifted and trained Transitional Pastors, Support Coaches, and Search Mentors can be a key part of success.
  5. Allowing the work of the “in between time” to inform the pastoral search seems to yield the best possible results.

Take a look through the four steps and resources that are available to assist you in each step, and let the transformation begin!!