Oh man it has been a long 6 months at Grace Church. I remember roughly 6 months ago, sitting on my couch at home and receiving a phone call from a good friend (who was also my Senior Pastor). He was on his way home from the Nashville airport after a quick trip to Denver Colorado. Turns out when he mentioned to us that he was heading to the mountains for the weekend he was really heading to a job interview. We all assumed, living in middle TN, that he was heading towards Gatlinburg for a vacation. Nope. It was like a little punch to the gut to find out the guy who gave you your first job in a church was leaving. But alas God had called him to Denver and there he now resides.
So in the mean time we have had 6 months without a Senior Pastor, a Connecting Pastor who like me is younger and working at his first job in a church, a Youth Pastor who had practically just started, a Children’s Pastor who has been through this before, and me. So a younger energitic staff but with less experience than desireable to keep a larger church opperating. And to top it all off the way the Nazarene denomination works is that we all have to officially resign with the Senior Pastor and the Church Board decided whether or not to keep us (really just a beurocratic formality) to which they can only guarentee 90 days of employment after the new pastor is offically hired (it is their perrogative to bring staff with them, keep the current staff, or use the 90 days to determine how things will work). While I was told I had little to worry about and that it is rarely ever the case for a staff overhaul, it sticks in the back of your mind as a possibility. Plus we had just bought a house and planted roots.
So we have been opperating in what I called maintenance mode for the interim time. We have basically been doing everything we can to keep the plane circling until we can bring it in for a landing (a nice safe non-crashed landing). In times of Senior Leadership change it can become very stressful. People seize the opportunity to voice oppinions that they would previously have kept to themselves. People jockey for position and attempt to “right the ship” they way they had always hoped their church could be. It can get heavy, people leave, rose colored glasses shattered and apparently pestilance, gnashing of teeth and the such. Or so I am told from other’s who have been through the change before.
I have to say that even though it wasn’t my favorite time of my ministry life, it wasn’t the horror show it could have been. The people of Grace really rallied together and despite the potential for a hard transition made the time one of spiritual growth rather than stagnation. And now we sit on the precipice of a new season at Grace Church as well as for each of our lives both personally and professionally. We have a new Senior Pastor starting this week and a new phase will begin. I can’t tell you it will continue to be smooth sailing, I can’t know what tomorrow brings, and I can’t predict what is next for Grace Church but I can tell you that it is time to begin again. We can come in for a landing and remove the scales of the maintenance mode and hit the ground running (wow a whole sentence of cliches and idioms!). Regardless of the reckless use of bad overused phrases, it’s like my battery is so close to being completely drained and I am ready to get recharged.
So have you ever been through this type of transition before? What was your experience? Please share.