Encouragement During Transition
These 6 thoughts offer encouragement and comfort as we transition to a period without a designated teaching pastor. You can have confidence that the elders will continue to provide pastoral care to our congregation as we seek God’s provision for our pulpit supply.
1. God will be with this church at all times.
We are not forsaken. God is with Real Life Church. He says through the author of Hebrews: “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5b – NLT). Pastors will come and go. Only God will never leave us. And the presence of God is more vital to the life of the church than any man.
2. God is in control.
Paul tells us “He [God] makes everything work out according to his plan” (Ephesians 1:11 – NLT). Do you believe that? This pastoral transition is not happening outside of the will of God. God is working this according to His plan. So the question is not, “Who is in control?” God is in control. The question is, “Will you rest in him by trusting him?”
3. God plans good out of this transition.
It might not feel good right now, but God has promised that He “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 – NLT). Do the people of this church love Him? If so, this transition is included in “all things”. Therefore, you can rest assured that good will come from it. That’s how awesome God is: even those things that don’t feel good are used for good. It might not be the good you have in mind, but it is good. Therefore, walk forward in faith.
4. It’s okay to weep.
While good will come out this pastoral transition, that doesn’t remove the deep sadness. Losing our pastor hurts. I’m reminded of how the Ephesian elders wept at Paul’s goodbye: “When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye. They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship.” (Acts 20:36-38 – NLT).
I believe the Ephesians knew that God would be with them, that he was in control, and that he was going to bring good out of the transition they were going through. Nevertheless, they wept. And it’s okay to weep. It’s actually a way of saying thank you to God and to Jonathan.
5. Ministry must go on.
Notice what the Great Commission does not say, “Go therefore and make disciples . . . if you have a pastor.”
I was inspired when another local church I have connections with lost their pastor, and the elders stood before the congregation and promised that the work of the church would continue on unaffected. The Great Commission doesn’t include any conditionals.
Does ministry become a bit harder without a pastor leading? Probably so, but we are the church and we must make sure ministry continues. Get to work!
6. The church must not scatter.
Jesus promised the flock would scatter at his crucifixion (Matthew 26:31). For a season, that’s exactly what happened. The same often happens in churches during pastoral transition. Because “their” pastor is no longer there or ministry begins to lag, folks trickle out. Some reasons for going might be legitimate, but this may also be the time in which the congregation should most strongly gather together for support and encouragement.
Recognize the temptation to scatter and work more diligently to stay bound together in unity and love. This will be a season of testing for you. I know you didn’t ask for it, but with God’s help, you’ll endure it, and this church will be stronger.
Adapted from 9 Marks post: https://9marks.org/article/6-truths-to-encourage-you-during-pastoral-transition/