Transformational Transitions Part 1: Remember the Goal

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Pastor Dan Christian

For some people, constant change is what keeps life interesting and enjoyable. Thus we have specialty coffee subscription plans delivering an ever-changing variety of beans to brew, and we have auto leasing options so that we can drive a new car every couple years. For others of us, consistency is what brings joy, so when we find a favorite item on a restaurant menu, why try anything else and be disappointed?

But no matter where you land on the spectrum of variety to regularity, some kinds of change are very difficult. A change in the leadership of a group or organization is one of those types of change that can be hard to navigate, even with those for whom variety is the spice of life.

For us as a church family, now that the change of our senior pastor is only a few weeks away, the realities of that change are suddenly hitting home. Perhaps the biggest struggle, especially for those who have been a part of this church for many years, is the insecurity of not knowing what this new season will look like or entail. We have enjoyed the stability that comes with a senior pastor who served faithfully for 42+ years, and though we believe our new senior pastor is called by God and is completely trustworthy, still we do not know to what extent our church—as we have known it—will change.

So as we enter this season of change, and as we wrestle internally to come to terms with all that is shifting, the primary question we need to ask is: What’s the point? Obviously we know the impetus for this transition is Pastor Cory’s retirement, but what is the purpose that God has for us in this?

God is always at work to grow His people toward greater maturity in Christ. God is always at work to strengthen and build His Church. And God is always at work to expand His Kingdom until people from every nation worship His name. That is God’s overarching Purpose (with a capital “P”). Any other purpose God is carrying out will relate back to His primary Purpose of growing His people, building His Church, and expanding His Kingdom.

Thus even though we cannot see now all that God will bring about through this transition, we can be confident that whatever He is doing will be aimed at fulfilling that larger Purpose. If that’s the case, then the goal for each of us individually—as well as the goal for us together as a church family—is not merely to “get through” the transition and adjust to whatever changes come about, but rather to grow through the transition into the people, and the church, that God desires us to be.

Keeping that aim of growth before us will help us walk through this season of transition with hopefulness and joy, despite the insecurity and loss that does come with change. And focusing on God’s larger Purpose will help keep us grounded in the excitement of the new changes we are anticipating.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) God is doing a work of transformation in we who belong to Him, as we turn our attention to Him and to His glory. We become like that which we behold.

So when things are uncomfortable and unknown in this season of change, how will you turn your attention to God, to behold His glory and open your heart to His transforming work? And when things are exciting and new in this season of change, how will you turn your focus on God, to revel in His glory and receive the growth that He alone can bring?

What’s the point of this transition we are walking through? It is not change merely for the sake of novelty. It is not just to welcome a new senior pastor. Rather, the point of this transition is that we as God’s people—and together as a church—would grow in our faith to become more like Christ, one increment at a time. Remember that goal.

Dan Christian