There are times when I am asked to help churches make transitions in pastoral leadership. When meeting with the primary leadership team of a church in transition, I will three questions.
1. What kind of church do you have?
I ask people to describe the relational environment of the church. This gives me a snapshot of their mission and how their values are translating into behavior. This is a fun exercise. Most people love their church and want to share their enthusiasm.
2. What kind of pastor do you want?
This question can provide a wide variety of answers that are filled with biblical qualifications and personal needs. Normally, there are common threads in the answers I receive. I will use those common threads to create a template to describe the qualities of a new pastor.
3. What is the culture like within one mile of your church?
This is where a connection or a disconnection with the mission of the church is discovered. There are times when the surrounding neighborhood is foreign to the demographic to those who regularly attend the church. This question also reveals another question that is not overtly asked but understood. Was your previous pastor and the one you want to bring in someone who can help the church reach those who reflect the nature of the surrounding community?
Self-discovery is powerful. When we come to the last question what was not obvious becomes obvious. It is from that place that we can begin to have real conversations that go deeper than the selection of a new pastor. Mission, vision, and values are revisited and redefined. Disconnections are discovered.
These three questions do not apply solely to pastoral transitions. They can apply to our personal lives, a business in transition or an entrenched political system. Many times we think we need a new edition of the status quo. We get comfortable living within the boundaries of our current dysfunction and want leaders who will help us perpetuate that limitation. In times like these, we need a fresh set of eyes from outside our context to help us see clearly.
If you are brave enough to answer the right questions with honesty and sincerity, God will be able to position you for the good things He has planned for your future. Changing the status quo can be a fearful thing for some people but it is the way of the Kingdom. Embrace change. Change is part of the spiritual DNA of life in the Spirit.