Ted, I really believe churches the size of Zion should just plan to always be in transition with some staff position
This was said to me by one of our Minneapolis Area Synod staff. The last email I read before beginning this article was sent to me by the senior pastor of a large ELCA congregation, like Zion, and had the following as the opening sentence,
I know a lot of our larger churches are seeking pastoral staff right now.
In the last week I received three emails and one written letter from congregations looking for new staff members and asking if I had ideas for them. Staff transition in large congregations is a really normal occurrence and is pretty much never ending. Now, that doesn’t make it easy.
Staff transitions can be challenging because most of the time some people are sorry to see a staff person go and others are looking forward to new things the change will bring. Transitions can bring anxiety. Will this important ministry keep going? Will we lose our momentum? Will our congregation keep going? Will I still get to volunteer when the new person arrives? How will we find someone that works with us? How long before the new staff person arrives? Will we even find someone new? Staff transition is really normal in large churches, but knowing that doesn’t make it easy.
I suggest letting yourself feel sorrow, if that is where you are at. Let yourself be excited about change if that is what you feel. Dream about new possibilities if that is how you are reacting. Each of those responses is normal and appropriate. But I encourage all of us to hang on to the belief that Zion’s best days are ahead. New ministries will spring up. New people will join. New missions will be dreamt and implemented. Old ministries will carry on and find new life. There is so much possibility ahead of us that with God’s leading, Zion’s best years are still to come!
We have begun the process of searching for the new staff that will help us get there. Positions in Children and Family Ministry are posted, we are receiving applications, and will be interviewing candidates in mid-July. We will soon begin the process of evaluating our pastoral needs, what staffing arrangement the budget will afford and new ministries we believe we need to develop. Because the annual budget is such a big determining factor, we will need to wait late into the fall before we can make our final determination. But we are moving ahead.
Please keep our staff transitions in your prayers. Pray for God’s leading, both for us as a congregation and for those who will be future members of our staff. Pray for the staff who have left, that God would bless their new endeavors. Pray for God to bring us a sense of direction as we see so many great possibilities ahead. Pray for God to bring us courage to take the next steps. Pray for God to bless Zion, so that we may be a blessing to our local area and around the world for the next 150 years!