As mentioned previously, one of the biggest topics at the 2012 Vineyard Northwest Regional Conference was transitions as the region is in the process of being split in half. To help with this, the regional leadership planned two transition workshops for attendees:
Leading and Learning Through Major Church Transitions – James Lafolette, Senior Pastor Oasis Vineyard Church, Hermiston, OR
This workshop will explore lessons and skills that can be beneficial in leading our fellowships through major transitions. James will share insights from personal experience in taking a church through several big changes and then facilitate group discussion.
Transitions: How to Thrive in Times of Transition – Tad Blackburn, Associate Pastor Vineyard Rockville Centre, Rockville Centre, NY
In life and ministry we experience many transitions. Understanding the process and how it affects us spiritually and emotionally is essential in learning the skills to enable us, and those we lead, to thrive through these times.
Knowing that the Payette River Vineyard is on the verge of building a food pantry/clothing closet/community center/church facility, I went to both workshops. The first one had a fairly relaxed atmosphere and was insightful into the dynamics of leading a church through change over the long term. The second one was more structured and provided some good tools for understanding how transitions effect people mentally and emotionally.
Interestingly enough as I reflected on these workshops and Tad’s main session, it hit me that our church was not just entering INTO transition but was living IN transition. What I mean is that in a lot of ways the Payette River Vineyard has never stopped being in transition as we had a rocky start with multiple pastors coming and leaving (none for moral reasons mind you; the changes were all due to economic reasons). When I stepped into the senor pastor’s position in February 2011, I became the fourth pastor five years… yeah… change and transitions…
Putting all this together, I realized that while I, as an individual, may be eager and ready to strike out for worlds unknown, the church as a whole may not be. Tad mentioned in his workshop that it sometimes takes two to three years for an organization to adjust to major changes… James also brought this up in his training as he made the mistake of trying to change too much too quickly…
In chewing over this, I made some comments about slowing down and recognizing when we are in transitions to those at our monthly prayer and worship meeting last Sunday. Interestingly enough they all agreed with the statements and noted that we were in fact still in a pastoral transition with folks having joined the church at different points along the last six years (i.e. folks who join a church at one point in its history tend to rank all other points according to that time as the original culture was what brought them in).
I don’t know what this all means for us as we still need to build a facility for the food pantry/clothing closet…but I do know that there are some things that can wait. Things that, while good and noteworthy, can sit on the shelf a little longer until the timing is right. Now to pray for the King to grant me us the spiritual wisdom to differentiate the two…