Disciples News Service

Greater Kansas City region develops congregation transition program

When a pastor resigns or retires, a congregation often faces a major transition. The next steps may feel overwhelming or unclear, but congregations are never alone in these pivotal moments.

To facilitate leadership transitions in their congregations, the Greater Kansas City region developed a process to help when a pastor resigns or retires.

The first step in this process is a meeting between regional staff and key congregation leaders. The conversation is guided by using a Ministry Blueprint tool the developed by former regional staff member Rev. Yolanda Roseby, which helps create a snapshot of the health and direction of the congregation. This tool guides the rest of the process, by leading the group in answering questions in a three-step path: “Where are we? Where is God leading us? How do we get there?”

After the group completes the blueprint, the region next leads the whole congregation in a World Cafe exercise of collaborative dialogue. These small group conversations are structured to help participants engage in deep thinking and sharing around what matters most to the congregation.

The regional staff also helps conduct a demographic overview of the congregation by collecting data from their leadership team, to add to this congregational snapshot.

Finally, the regional minister prepares a final report from these exercises and works with the newly forming Search and Call team to develop the narrative parts of their congregational profile, a resource developed by the General Commission on the Order of Ministry.

This process is beneficial to congregations in a variety of ways. For Steve Crandall, moderator of Belton Christian Church, “The Sunday that the World Cafe exercise began, I noticed that our members were excited about participating in discerning our near-term future. As Moderator I learned a lot about my congregation through these exercises.”

By working through this process with regional staff, congregations are reminded that they are cared for by the wider Church during their time of transition. The congregation also gets a taste of more the more substantial discernment processes offered by Hope Partnership Services, and may elect to engage in that work during a productive interim ministry.

Of course, congregations aren’t the only ones who benefit from deepening this relationship. Regional staff get to better know the congregation, customize support, and identify potential partnerships with other congregations working on similar challenges and/or opportunities.

The full process also provides useful congregational information to interim ministers to review prior to agreeing to candidacy.

“We all know that religious life is changing in North America,” explains regional minister Rev. Bill Rose-Heim. “Congregations need and welcome more tailored assistance, and regional leaders can and do help. The Christmas offering provides funding for Regions to serve and lead in new ways as partners in our movement for wholeness.”

To strengthen the work that regions do for Disciples across our Church, you’re invited to support the 2019 Christmas Special Day Offering, which will support your own regional ministry.