I am always learning. I hope that never changes. Lately God has been teaching me some things about leading ministry when people transition out of leadership positions. I wrote down some observations and lessons learned. I will likely come back to them and perhaps they will be of some benefit to you as the reader.
– Remember to appreciate and encourage all our ministry workers. I try to do that each week/month at team meetings. What each person in the body of Christ does is important and it matters to the Lord and to those in the church body. We all need encouragement along the way. So give it as often as possible, even in the little things. In fact, a principle where I have failed is that it may be better to go overboard than to under-appreciate someone. In the end, point to God as the one who gets the glory.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24
– Be thankful for those who willingly step out of their comfort zone to serve and see if that is where God wants them. Don’t try to think “what’s wrong with us?” or “who do they not like?”. Sometimes it is a fit and sometimes it is not. We do not want those who do not enjoy or are not gifted serving in a certain ministry to continue serving. That does more harm than good. Show appreciate for the time that person did serve and move on as God leads someone else with the right gift and passions into that area of ministry. Or perhaps that area of ministry may need changed or closing. Ask God to show you which direction to go during that time of transition.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:12-17
– Be watchful. In contrast to the previous statement, sometimes there is a negative reason for a person’s departure. A person may be asked to leave for some sort of moral or competency failure. Or a person may leave because of how they were negatively treated. And probably more often than not it is a mixture of both. This is an unwanted experience all the way around. But it must be dealt with biblically and sensitively. Be careful how public any disclosures need to be, sometimes many need to know but most of the time it can be handled with a few; or in processed concentric circles. In all, protecting the unity of God’s church is necessary.
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:2-10
– Recruiting ministry leaders is never-ending. There should be a stead stream of people being asked to serve in various areas. This largely should happen by those who are currently serving in those specific ministry areas. This can be done simply by sharing with others what God is doing in that ministry and in your life as that ministry volunteer or leaders. Then ask them to come check it out and see if it may be a good fit for them too.
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11
– Focus on God’s vision for the ministry not our own. Every day/week/month/year there are things that can become a distraction to God’s vision in our life & ministry. Don’t get down or discouraged. God wants us to stay focused on reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, keep loving people, keep serving in your area of ministry, keep connection to the evaluation of ministry needs, and above all, stay grounded in the Word for your own heart and integrity. It is God’s Church and He is the Head. He knows when people leave and has a plan for others to join in the future. In transition time, seek out what He is teaching you, the team and the church.
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16