Lessons in Ministry Transition

I’m about ten months into a new ministry and I’ve made quite a few mistakes. Here are some lessons I’ve learned that apply not only to a new ministry transition, but can help improve an existing ministry. (To be frank, looking at this list, these are all “no brainer” issues – but sometimes I’m pretty brainless and need to learn this all over again.)

One more thing: these are raw notes and when I use the second person (“you”) I’m preaching to myself.

Dream, plan, think. These are all good things, but unless they are communicated nothing will happen and you will alienate the very people necessary to make it happen. Part of communicating is listening. Ask open ended questions. Listen to people and keep yer trap shut!

Use email, texts, facebook, snail mail, telephone and even (gasp) face to face conversations.

Communicate regularly, consistently and constantly with your leadership team (dude – frankly, you suck at this, fix it).

Keep the Big Picture
Know where you’re heading. Set some long and short term goals. Review this list monthly to see how you’re doing and possibly revise the goals. Specifically, set some 90 day goals. Check them monthly, revise as needed and keep adding month to month (if you’re still working on the same goal 90 days from now, you might need to run a diagnostic on your ministry and see where the misfire is).

Filter out the Noise
Let’s face it, everyone has an idea about how your ministry ought to be run. Give them a chance and they’ll tell you (and some will tell you whether you give them a chance or not). Listen to people. Get ideas. But remember your vision and goals. Take time regularly to sift through it all, filter the noise. Identify the signals which are consistently good and tap into those people. Don’t completely tune out the other waves (you never know where a good idea or a legitimate criticism will come from) but focus on the strong signals and good stations.

Change with a Purpose
Change is often hard, but it is necessary. A pond, lake or sea which has no outlet (in other words, doesn’t experience a constant change in the water) goes stagnant. But change cannot be arbitrary. Just because an idea sounds good doesn’t mean it should be acted upon, or at least not acted upon now. Go back to the vision. Go back to the goals. Make sure the ideas you implement and changes you make bring you closer to these things.

People will accept change better if they see clearly where it’s going and why.

Well, that’s it. Just some raw notes on ministry transition.

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