Here on the blog, I am engaging in a four-week series about pastoral transition. In many ways, this series will help me to think through my personal transition, and I hope it helps others along the way.
Here’s what we’ll learn together:
- How to Navigate Social Media When Moving from One Pastorate to Another
- 7 Things to Remember When Thinking About Pastoring Another Church
- How to Know When to Go
- 7 Practical Tips for A New Pastor Following A Long-Tenured Pastor
- 5 Relationship Building Strategies in a New Church
- A Practical Checklist for Pastors to Leave A Church Well
- 7 Productivity Hacks to Help You Move More Efficiently
- My Plan for the First 90 Days as Lead Pastor of Brushy Creek Baptist Church, Taylors, SC
- 6 Things to Do On Your First Day at a New Job
- 5 Things to Remember On A Pastor’s First Sunday at a New Church
At the time of the release of this article, I announced yesterday that I am resigning as lead pastor of Church of the Highlands in Chattanooga, TN, effective October 22, 2017, and will begin serving as lead pastor of Brushy Creek Baptist Church in Taylors, SC (suburban Greenville) on November 6, 2017.
Leap of Faith or Presumptuous?
It has become a trend in recent years for pastors to announce to their church the week prior to being voted on at their new church. The problem with this is that the new church has not yet voted on the candidate. As a result, it is a major leap of faith.
This could also be interpreted by the new church as presumptuous, and that the vote is a mere rubber stamp. Depending on how the announcement is worded, it could very well be presumptuous.
I decided to go the traditional route of telling Church of the Highlands after I was voted in at Brushy Creek, but it was a hard decision. I went back and forth on it, prayed about it, asked a couple of older ministers, and felt at peace about waiting until the week after to announce it. I think I made the right decision.
Can People Keep A Secret?
Without exception, not one of my pastor friends thought the news of my pastoral transition could be kept a secret by a 3,200-member church just four hours away. They’d say things like, “Do you really think every one of those people will keep things confidential?”
In every announcement and publication, from the time my name was announced to Brushy Creek, the church was encouraged to keep things confidential, especially online, so I would have the opportunity to personally tell my Church of the Highlands family.
Without exception, the church did a great job respecting this. I think most churches would, if it was consistently communicated to them to keep it confidential.
Communicating the Transition
The only person at Church of the Highlands I told about my move to Greenville prior to the vote was my Associate Pastor, Ace Stafford, in order to groom and prepare him to lead the day-to-day operations of the church in the interim season. I’m glad I did this because he and I have had a lot of conversations about how to handle various things with the church.
Upon return to Chattanooga, after I was voted in at Brushy Creek, I told our staff on that Tuesday. I met with our deacons and finance team on Saturday morning of that week. After telling them about God’s calling on my life, and working through those emotions, we discussed the way they would need to lead through the interim and how to get a pastor search committee together quickly.
Then, exactly one week after I was voted in at Brushy Creek, I led Church of the Highlands to have one combined service, where we partook of the Lord’s Supper together, then I read my resignation letter and passed out the letter, along with this Q&A sheet that I tweaked from ClearView Baptist in Franklin, TN.
Immediately after the service ended, Brushy Creek publicly announced my calling as pastor and I announced it on social media and here on my website.
Word spreads so fast in this social media age. The key to transitioning from one church to another in the “web 2.0” world is to make a plan, then work the plan. I tried my hardest, was filled with prayer, and am happy with the way it worked out.
Do you have any additional thoughts on pastoral transition in the social media age? Let me know in the comment section below.