Yesterday my pastor resigned his position to the church family. For some this came as a surprise. Others were happy for him and the new work God has called him to (his influence on churches and pastors is about to go up dramatically) because of his new role. I am certain that there is a smaller group that may even be glad he’s moving on – there is always a mixture of emotions when there is a pastoral change.
That’s why I am thankful that churches have Bible study ministries. While not their primary mission, a ministry such as Sunday School helps churches weather pastoral transitions. Here are three ways that Sunday School, or your church’s equivalent, can play an important part in the pastoral transition process:
- Prayer – During times of pastoral transition, Bible study groups can and should pray for the church (members); many people will be heartbroken that the pastor is leaving. Prayer should also be lifted up for the Personnel Committee’s members and the Pastor Search Team. The staff should also be prayed for since they normally carry heavier loads during the months and years of pastoral transitions.
- Information dissemination – Rumors and false information can quickly make their way through the phones and social media of church members. The Sunday School’s leaders and teachers can help to keep church members informed by providing highly accurate information. In the absence of trustworthy information, people will fill in the blanks and create their own narratives, and 99.9% of the time, those narratives are false narratives.
- Ministry – It is not uncommon for people to join a church because they identify with the pastor on some level. These people are most likely to have difficulty during a pastoral transition. Sunday School teachers must be extra diligent as they lead their groups, watching like good shepherds for group members who are hurting or going astray. Ministering to these hurting people often becomes “job 1” during a time of transition.
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