I praise God for the men who have answered the call into the Holy Ministry, who serve the Lord and His Church as shepherds of the people of God. I have had the privilege of serving with many fine pastors over the years. Pastors become especially loved by their congregations, so it often is a hard time when a pastor takes a call to shepherd another church. Let me start by saying that this practice of pastors leaving and serving at various churches is a good and healthy thing for the pastors, and also for the church. Here are 3 things to remember in this situation.
It’s Hard for Them, Too.
While we often feel a very natural sense of loss when a pastor leaves, like having a good friend or family member move away, remember that they feel loss, too. As the pastor of my church recently announced his plans to accept the call of another ministry, I was struck by the realization that, while we are losing one pastor and his family, they are losing an entire congregation of people. We will still have our fellow worshipers next Sunday and the Sunday after, but our pastor and his family will leave all of the familiar and begin the long, hard road of making new connections.
Pray for Them and Their Family.
It is time to pray for the pastor and his family as they make the transition. In fact, I believe we need to offer a special prayer for strength and peace for his family. As a professional church worker who has moved several times over the course of my ministry, I know that those transitions are harder for my wife and children than for me, in many ways.
My life continues much the same. I go to work each day in a job designed for me. I get to meet all the people and staff of the new church through meetings, and day-to-day ministry at the church. My family meets the congregation and staff much more slowly over the weeks and months that follow. They are the ones with the bigger adjustment to a new neighborhood, school, and city.
It’s Time to Be the Church.
When a pastor leaves, there are often many tasks that must be handed off to others. This is a time for the members of a congregation to step up to the plate and ask how they can help. While it is a time for the congregation to grieve the loss of their shepherd, it is also a time to come together. The work of the kingdom that brought this body of believers together is still there to be done. There are sick people to care for, there are children to teach, there is worship to lead. This is also a time for preparation as the congregation gets ready for a new shepherd.
It’s a good time to take a look at things we don’t think about at other times: Is the pastor’s office in need of any repairs? Are there needs of the congregation that should be addressed in the calling of a new pastor? Think of ways that the body of Christ can come together and ease the transition time.
Something to Ponder Is there some special way you can say farewell to your pastor and his family? How have you seen congregations grow through this season of vacancy? Join the conversation.