After 21 years of leadership in our local church, God brought us to a time of transition. It was one of the most unique and important seasons of our lives. You may be experiencing a transition as well. How you maneuver yourself and your family through this time is crucial. Although the season of change may not be easy, it can be blessed.
Here are five keys to leading your family through a ministry transition:
1. Be Obedient.
As in all things, being obedient to God is what will determine your destiny. No matter how favorable or unfavorable the transition circumstances, the bottom line is that your heart of obedience trumps all. Stay close to the Lord so you can hear His voice. Seek His ways so you know what to do and when to do it. It may take courage, humility, and faith; but in your obedience God will be with you.
2. Clearly Communicate.
Decide ahead of time how you will convey your transition to others. Whether it is staff, friends, family, or laypeople, have a communication plan. This is especially important for your children, as they will be asked multiple questions from well-meaning people. Find a simple, honorable, positive message as to why you are leaving and where you will be going. Keep in mind that your changes will deeply affect those that love and respect you.
3. Take Your Children on a Journey.
Changing churches may be one of the most challenging life turns for a ministry child, particularly for a preteen or teen. Take your time through the process of leading your children. Cutting the relationship off with the church suddenly could be traumatic for them. Explain to them how you are obeying God with a new direction, and that means God is calling them as well. Listen to them as they process their emotions. Most importantly, allow them to stay connected with people they are close with, to the best of your ability.
4. Find Healing.
Not everyone experiences loss or hurt in a transition. For those who do, healing must be a priority. If you are hurting, reach out to someone who is removed from the situation so you can process your circumstances. Whether this person is a trusted family member, mentor, district leader, or counselor; make an effort to find support. Don’t go through your church changes alone. Allow others to come alongside, and take the time you need to work through any grief.
5. Expect the Best.
There will be moments when you will feel like Abraham in Genesis 12:1, when God asked him to "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1, NIV). Trust that God will fulfill His promises to take care of you. Expect in faith all He has planned for you and your family. Speak life about the future with your spouse and children. Let them know you have hope for what is to come. Reminisce about the wonderful memories in the place you have been with expectations of what lies ahead. Your spirit will shine through your actions and words, which will be solid ground for your family during a shifting time in their lives.
Leading your family through transition can be a beautiful, blessed time of growing together, just as it was for our family. In your obedience to God, you can communicate your trust in Him for the journey, with healing and hopeful anticipation for all that is to come.