It usually happens this time of year. We get ready for fall with new leadership and say goodbye to those who step down. Thank you for serving; now on to the new team. The cycle of leadership continues without the one thing needed-—transition.
Why do we spend our time and energy on selecting leaders for the future–—without learning from the past? We fail to move forward until we transition from where we have been.
Did your vacation Bible school leaders’ keep the beat going by transitioning to the team that will lead next summer? Did those who completed their board terms hand over any notes or records for the next leader to follow? Are you training the person who will step into the ministry you currently lead? If staff and volunteers are always starting from scratch–—reinventing the wheel—they’ll never move past entry level ministry.
When we bridge from the foundation that has already been achieved, we reach the next level. In his book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, Seth Godin says, “Linchpins don’t work in a vacuum. Indispensable work is work that is connected to others.” Do you feel as though you’re working in the vacuum of church ministry?
When changing the beat of new leadership make sure you transition the essentials:
- Evaluate – The adage ‘the job ain’t done until the paperwork is completed’ really is true. Ministry programs must be evaluated when they conclude in order to measure success. Hopefully, specific program goals or objectives were established at the beginning so you have a baseline for measurement. Participants and volunteers should have the opportunity to give their feedback, opinion, and evaluation. (This is also a great time to ask if volunteers are interested in serving next year!) Suggest to outgoing leadership that they compile a summary report of the evaluations, goals, budget, attendance, and any other information that will help the new leadership team.
- Engage – With paperwork in hand, now is the time to talk. Hold a transitional meeting to engage conversation with outgoing and incoming leadership. This is where past knowledge helps future performance. Brainstorm suggestions for next year. Honestly share what worked and what needs improvement. It’s not always a question of working harder, but working smarter. Seth Godin says, “When the connection isn’t made, blind persistence isn’t always the best approach.” Time spent reviewing what was learned in the evaluation phase will keep the heartbeat of ministry stronger. We ambush new leaders for failure if we don’t facilitate learning from past mistakes.
- Educate – Have you ever been asked to perform a job but not given the training to be successful? My wife and I volunteered to help at the annual “Sculpture in the Park” sponsored by the arts council of our city. We were mailed a packet of information, including what position we were assigned, but no instructions regarding what we were supposed to do. When we checked in they told us the team we would replace would tell us what to do. The outgoing team told us the team before them didn’t offer any instructions so they just made up what they thought they were supposed to do. It was the classic case of the blind-leading-the-blind. We lose valuable insights from those who have gone before when we don’t train the newbie’s from what the veterans have learned. Train your leaders for success by providing them with insights learned from the outgoing team.
Leadership transition is vital to keeping the beat of ministry. Strengthen your church-—and your leaders-—by taking these steps to make sure the beat goes on!