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Mead, A Change of Pastors

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Loren B. Mead, A Change of Pastors: …And How It Affects Change in the Congregation. Alban Institute, 2005.

Referenced in: Ministry Transitions and Interim Ministry

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

This is a revision of Mead’s earlier work, A Critical Moment in Ministry. Mead explains why transition periods are ‘extraordinarily pregnant moments,’ full of both positive and negative potential, and how to make the most of it. He draws a distinction between minister search/placement and congregational development, and encourages congregations to fulfill crucial developmental tasks before hiring, thus becoming a healthier climate for the new minister and increasing the likelihood a more productive long-term relationship. He also suggests ways ministers can assist the church during their exit (debunking the ‘lame duck’ myth). Mead discusses transition committees, and the role they play in helping the congregation through the seven sequential transitional stages: termination, direction-finding, self-study, search, decision-negotiation, installation, and start-up. He also addresses five concurrent, non-sequential tasks: coming to terms with the past, discovering a new identity, allowing for needed leadership changes, rediscovering the denomination, and commitment to new directions in ministry. See my brief summary of the five developmental stages.

From the Publisher

A revised edition of Critical Moment of Ministry: Change of Pastors. Twenty years after Critical Moment of Ministry was first published, Loren Mead returns to his groundbreaking work on one of the most important times in a congregation’s life, the time between one pastor’s leaving and another’s arrival. In this revised edition, A Change of Pastors, Mead shares the wisdom he gained from 35 years of studying congregations, wisdom that he hopes will allow congregations to take full advantage of this “extraordinarily pregnant moment” during which incredible congregational change can happen.

With the voice of an old friend and trusted counselor, Mead leads his readers through the challenges of forming committees, negotiating denominational relations, and managing the search process. He describes in detail the seven sequential steps congregations ought to take to ensure a smooth transition: termination, direction finding, self-study, search, decision/negotiation, installation, and start-up. Additionally, Mead devotes a chapter to non sequential developmental tasks, tasks that should take place throughout the transition and into the congregation’s future: coming to terms with the past, discovering a new identity, allowing for needed leadership changes, rediscovering the denomination, and commitment to new directions in ministry. Performing these developmental tasks in concert with the seven sequential steps allows congregations to take full advantage of this fertile time for change in the congregation, this “critical moment of ministry.”

A revised text and introduction, an updated bibliography, and a new preface and afterword make A Change of Pastors crucial for any congregation undergoing or about to undergo a change of pastors. In the midst of this transition, there is no doubt that your congregation will find a new pastor. But this book will help you to do more than merely find a hired hand to manage the preaching and the worship. You will discover what God wants you to be and do. You will find a new commitment to ministry. And you will find the pastor who will help make that ministry happen.

About the Author

Loren B. Mead is president emeritus of the Alban Institute, which he founded in 1974. Since his retirement in 1993, he has continued to consult with congregations, lecture, and write. He has written many books, including The Once and Future Church: Reinventing the Church for a New Mission Frontier (Alban, 1991).


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