Saturday, November 26, 2016

Transition times are not for rest

As many of you know, I am currently serving as the Transitional Pastor of Madison FBC in Madison, Indiana. This is one of the oldest churches in the state of Indiana with a rich history of ministry in this area and around the world. It enjoys a sister church relationship with a church in El Salvador, is a strong supporter of American Baptist mission work, supports a number of individual missionaries, and has numerous ministries in the community. In the few short months I've served in this current ministry I've been impressed with the dedication and commitment of its members as well as the fellowship that exists in the church.

I was called to be the Interim Pastor as is common in churches seeking a new pastor, but in my first message I shared that I would prefer to be seen as a Transitional Pastor. The term interim seems to have the image of something that is biding its time while it seeks more permanent leadership. The word transitional sounds more like something that is moving forward. A transition is going from one place to another, and that seems to be a better image for a church than one that is just sitting around. The church responded very well to that shift in thinking, and we are moving forward even while the Pastor Search Team is doing its job.

In January we will begin a visioning process to see where God might be leading the church in the next few years. It has been ten years since the church went through a similar process and formed a vision statement. Vision needs to be re-visited every 5-6 years anyway, and the transitional time between pastors is a great time to do that.

We will also begin small groups in January. These groups will meet for ten weeks and address a number of subjects designed to help persons grow in their faith. We've had several people volunteer to lead these groups, and we are praying that a large number of our members and others from the community will join one of the small groups.

Our Sunday night Bible study has begun a study through the book of Acts with a special focus on the first century church. It's been interesting to see how many of the challenges that church faced are similar to ones the church is currently facing.

We will begin the new year challenging people to read through the Bible in 2017. Many, including myself, have found this to be a meaningful devotional exercise, but there are many others who have never read through the Bible in one year. We want to encourage people to spend more time in God's Word, and this is one way to promote that.

There are a number of other events being planned for 2017 that are designed to increase the ministry and fellowship opportunities in the church and community. Transition times are not times to settle in but a time to grow and expand what God wants to do in and through the church. This is exactly what this congregation is doing. When they do call a pastor he or she will not have to figure out how to get them started doing ministry. The new pastor's biggest challenge will be trying to figure out how to get on board a moving train! Believe me, most pastors would prefer the second challenge over the first one!

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