Currently Serving First Christian Church of Duncanville, Texas

I concluded my final interim pastorate with First Christian Church of Albany, Texas in March 2016. For now, I am leaving this page in my blog for any value it may be to others (congregations or pastors) engaged in interim ministry between pastors.

I have shifted my attention to addressing the needs of my wife and family as we move into a new phase of our life. I am able to do that while driving funeral cars on a day-to-day on-call basis and being available to conduct funerals for people who do not have a pastor. Information about my Funeral and Memorial Ministry can be found at that link in the Navigate box below.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my interim ministry and am satisfied that I have completed it while I am still able to do it, before anyone has to wonder why I keep trying when I can't do it any longer. I do not want to be like the aging athletes who try to prolong their careers only to stumble and bumble around on the playing field or court. I give thanks to God for the wonderful people who came into our lives through these five interim pastorates on top of my total of 40+ years of pastoral ministry.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Developmental Tasks for a Congregation in Transition - handout

Introductory Bible Reflection – Moses Passes Leadership to Joshua

Deuteronomy 31:14-15, 23; 34:9

The Lord said to Moses, “Your time to die is near; call Joshua and present yourselves in the tent of meeting, so that I may commission him.” So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tent of meeting, 15and the Lord appeared at the tent in a pillar of cloud; the pillar of cloud stood at the entrance to the tent. 23Then the Lord commissioned Joshua son of Nun and said, “Be strong and bold, for you shall bring the Israelites into the land that I promised them; I will be with you.”

9Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Joshua 1:1-3

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, 2“My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. 3Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses.

Come to terms with your history.

I recommend enlisting an outside facilitator to guide the congregation through a time-line or other historical exercise.

A. This is usually done by an interim pastor but you could ask your Regional or Area Minister or someone they would recommend to help you with this.

B. In Fellowship Hall, prepare a timeline from 1863 to today on a roll of butcher paper. Ask Denzil Clifton to help locate dates of important events: buildings, changes of pastors, etc.

C. Have fellowship dinner on either a Sunday afternoon or Wednesday evening when people will have relaxed time to work on this together.

D. Start by having people line up in front of the time-line at the year they joined the church. Starting with the earliest and moving to the most recent, ask them to describe the circumstances of their joining in just a sentence or two.

E. Form groups with no more than six in a group with spouses in separate groups. Each group uses markers to add significant events and names of individuals (e.g. other staff, lay leaders, etc.) at appropriate times on the time-line.

a) Remind them that all churches have both positive and negative events in their history and it is important, healthy and healing to acknowledge them by listing them on the time-line.

b) Also remind them that different people place different interpretations on the events and that recognizing those differences is also healthy for coming to terms with how the past has shaped the present and prepared for the future.

c) Since some events will be important to more than one group, they may add comments to things that are already on the time-line.

F. At the agreed upon closing time, tell them that the time-line is a work in progress and will be available in Fellowship Hall or the Hall of Missions for a month, and people are invited to add items and comments. This is also open to those who were not present for this event.

G. After a month, have another fellowship dinner to interpret and process the time-line with the facilitator by considering these questions.

a) What are the major eras of our history? Founding, formative, “glory days,” challenge times, present.

b) In each era, what was the community like? What was happening in the city? In the neighborhood where the church met at that time?

c) In each era, what was the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) like and how did Central Christian Church relate?

d) What were the significant events and who were the significant people in the congregation in each era?

e) In each era, what was the congregation like? Size? Worship style? Mission and ministry? How were decisions made?

f) In each era, how did the congregation understand its distinctive calling and identity? Name, location, ideal size, pastoral role, programs?

g) In each era, what kind of leadership was or was thought to be most effective?

Develop a new identity and a new sense of mission.

The “Vision/Scope” document of 2008

The Future of Central Christian Church document of 2009

Help leadership grow and change.

  1. Study how other Disciples of Christ congregations are restructuring to be more nimble and attuned to generational changes in church government and decision making to address the Constitution and Operating Rules.
  2. Gather and organize all of the church’s legal documents.

Reaffirm linkages to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the church at large.

Guiding Vision for the Christian Church in the Southwest

New Day–New Direction Task Force of the

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Southwest

· We, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Southwest, are gathered by God to be a community of missional communities, faithfully abiding in Christ as branches to a vine.

· We demonstrate God’s sacrificial love for us by engaging one another in a sacrificial life together -- open, confessing, forgiving and loving relationships for the sake of God’s mission.

· Compelled by our prayerful study of Scripture and urged by the Holy Spirit, we are sent into our fragmented world to become and to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.

· Compelled by our prayerful study of Scripture and urged by the Holy Spirit, we live out the rich diversity of humanity at the Lord’s Table by including all in worship, sharing power and accountability, and working for God’s mission of justice, peace, and equality.

· Compelled by our prayerful study of Scripture and urged by the Holy Spirit, we study together in search of deeper faith; we do mission together to be a witness to the faith we share.

· Compelled by our prayerful study of Scripture, we recognize that we have not yet fulfilled our calling. Urged by the Holy Spirit, we continually seek direction and renewal, humbly sharing with God’s beloved world the gifts we have already received: forgiveness, encouragement, and reconciliation.

a. What themes from the Region’s Guiding Vision can inform the shaping of Central Christian Church’s new identity and mission for the future?

b. How might participating in the community of missional communities of the Region benefit Central Christian Church as you make your transition into the future?

c. What is Central Christian Church’s contribution to the Region and what more could be offered of benefit to the Region and its congregations?

Make a commitment to new leadership and a new future.

A. Celebrating both farewells and welcomes liturgically in worship and socially:

a. helps the congregation deal with the feelings of grief and uncertainty.

b. encourages them to celebrate God’s work in a specific period of time and affirms the faith that God will continue to go with them.

c. enables both pastor and congregation to invoke God’s blessing on each other for the new futures that lie ahead of them.

B. Once I am no longer the pastor of Central Christian Church, I will no longer perform pastoral roles or tasks for you. I will not do funerals or weddings. I will not visit in the hospital. I will not discuss the decisions being made by leaders. I will not influence the selection of the next pastor nor evaluate or influence the new pastor’s ministry. The only future participation I will consider is appearing for commemorative events such as anniversaries, only at the invitation of the new pastor. I will still care about you and pray for you. As with people from the previous three congregations I have served, some friendships will continue as our paths diverge, but I will always point you to your current pastor for pastoral concerns.

Resources for the transition

A Change of Pastors by Loren B. Mead (2005, Alban Institute)

Circulate for reading by everyone on the search team and Board officers and as many Elders and Board members as possible.

Temporary Shepherds by Roger S. Nicholson, ed. (1998, Alban Institute)

If you do have an interim/transitional pastor, circulate for reading by at least the search team and Board officers.

Concluding Bible Reflection – Jesus Says “Good-Bye” to His Disciples

John 13:31-36; 14:16-18

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

36Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.”

16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.

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