4 Steps To Effectively Communicate Your Pastor’s Transition

4 Steps To Effectively Communicate Your Pastor’s Transition

July 27, 2015 by

Losing a pastor is hard for a church, and it can be messy. Having walked alongside hundreds of churches in the trenches of a pastoral transition, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

A key part of a healthy pastoral transition is a clear and intentional communication plan. When a church community is left to wonder about the transition, toxic gossip spreads, and church splits can happen. Avoid this by making communication a priority as your church faces the transition process.

Number one pastoral transition mistake: Beginning the process before leadership is aligned on the church’s direction.

Here are a few basic steps to consider in effectively communicating your pastor’s transition:

1. Communicate with Alignment

The number one mistake churches make during transition is beginning the pastor search process before their leadership team is aligned on where the church is headed.

Before your church does anything else, have your leadership team discuss what’s next and begin creating a plan. This process will look different depending on your church’s polity. If your church is staff-led, your executive team might run point on decision-making. If your church is elder-led, your board of elders will likely be in charge. If you’re a part of a denomination or church-planting network, you likely have leadership at the regional or national level that can provide guidance.

Whatever the process, ensure there is one and make sure the church leadership is aligned regarding which details are going to be communicated to who and when.

2. Communicate Through Your Website

Upon announcing a new pastor search, your church leadership team will receive an influx of questions and concerns. Consider creating a dedicated, updated landing page on your website specifically for your pastor transition to help manage this.

A few pointers when creating the pastor-search landing page:

  • Make the landing page easy to find from the front page of your website.
  • Include a video from your pastor announcing the transition.
  • Share bios and information about the search team.
  • Describe the process and timeline of your pastor search.
  • Provide a list of frequently asked questions.
  • Offer an opportunity for members to subscribe to email updates regarding the search.

Losing a pastor causes the church body to go through a grieving process. It will help people to hear from you regularly as you journey through transition together.

3. Communicate Through Video

It will be important for your church community to hear the reason for transition directly from your pastor. If this is possible (it might not be depending on the pastor’s situation) record and post a video of the outgoing pastor’s announcement. Posting a video will lessen the confusion and hear-say that can often follow a pastor’s transition announcement. It will also allow everyone to hear the announcement at the same time. If you’re in a church with more than one worship service or more than one campus, sending a video to the church community can be very helpful.

4. Communicate Consistently

Regardless of your mediums of communications (platform announcement, email, website, or all of the above), make it a priority to communicate to your church community about the search process consistently.

  • Are you going to give updates monthly or weekly?
  • Who is the communication going to come from?
  • Who is it going to?

Have a plan and be consistent.

Once you’ve communicated the transition to your church community, it’s now time to start planning your church’s pastor search process.

No matter how or why your pastor left, your church needs loving guidance to walk them through the transition process. Change is always hard—whether it’s good or bad—but as a church leader, you have the opportunity to lead your church through a healthy transition and cast the vision of where God is leading your church into the future.

Post By:

William Vanderbloemen

William Vanderbloemen is president of Vanderbloemen Search Group, the premier executive search firm that helps churches and ministries find their key staff, and co-author of Next: Pastoral Succession That Works. Connect with William on Twitter at @wvanderbloemen.
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