We have been living in a state of pastoral transition since February. It is now almost May and we still have until June before the transition is finalized. Are you tired of the transition, yet? It’s OK if you are, because trust me … I understand.
This has been a long transition. A really, really, really, really long transition. In fact, a friend of mine recently pointed out to me that, because of the extended nature of this transition, about 25 percent of my time at Ogden Memorial will be spent in this period of waiting.
That can produce anxieties and awkwardness. I know I have felt those emotions. There is an awkwardness that comes in knowing that the official goodbye is coming and is a ways off, but still wanting to do what is best and most effective in our work to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
My hope and focus throughout this transition has been to leave Ogden Memorial better off than when I arrived in June 2017. This is my deepest desire, especially now as we turn towards May and June and the transition is no longer an abstract reality, but something we will deal with more fully.
There are some things I want to encourage you to do, as we move closer to this transition period. I hope you will take these as heart-felt expressions of wanting to leave Ogden Memorial well and establish a good footing for the church moving forward.
First, I want to encourage you to be in constant prayer for the transition. Take time to pray for your new pastor. Pray that God will equip them to be blessed during their time at Ogden. Pray for the church that they will be leaving. Pray for myself and my family as we prepare to move to Beverly Hills and Huntington, W.Va. Pray for Beverly Hills, as well, as they prepare to say goodbye to Dr. Jerry Wood.
Second, I want to encourage you to remain hopeful. It is easy to allow the anxieties of what will the new pastor do or be like to consume our thoughts and conversations. Instead of thinking in anxious terms, I want to encourage us to think about the possibilities of new ministry, new life, and new opportunities that may come Ogden Memorial’s way through your new pastor.
Finally, I want to encourage you to keep moving forward. Tuesday I had the opportunity to share about the transition on WPKY’s “Coffee Talk” program. I shared my view that it is “next pastor up” as it comes to pastoral transitions. I truly believe this. The work continues of making disciples and sharing the love of Jesus Christ regardless of who the pastor may be. The work of being a church defined by how we love, make disciples, pray for one another, worship, and build community does not end. Too often we see pastoral transitions as a time when ministry ends, which is to the detriment of the mission. The church continues and we come along for the ride.
I’m looking forward to leading you in this transitional time, especially as Ogden Memorial moves forward into this new period of ministry and life. I believe fully that Ogden Memorial’s best days are coming.