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There are many reasons a pastor may leave a pastorate. All these will require a careful transition that will be smooth enough to allow for the growth of the church as well as the growth of the pastor and his family. The church leadership should see to it that they have a well laid out procedure that will ensure transparency and submission to the Holy Spirit as they transition the church to the next phase of ministry leadership. The leadership should also help transition the pastor and his family. We should always be a good witness in the community and be good examples on how to treat those who serve among us.

Those who remain behind after the pastor and his family leaves may need to commit to working together to repair whatever damage there may be. This is a crucial time to hold the church together for the present, and to seek God’s leading for future. This future may be uncertain but God should be in control. The church ultimately belongs to God. At the time of the departure of the lead pastor, the church leadership must understand God’s sovereignty in all things.

The church should be led into the four phases below:

1. Closure of the Past: Celebration and healing
2. Developing Confidence in the Present. Understand God’s sovereignty.
3. Clarity for the Future: Casting vision
4. Centered on Christ: Letting Christ lead

Contact BCBC District Ministry Centre for guidance on how to transition. We will point you in the right direction in terms of finding a transitional pastor or give guidance on how to proceed.

Some of the reasons pastors may leave a pastorate:

1. Retirement after a long and faithful service in the church.

a. This is an ideal situation where a pastor may feel he has brought the church to where he feels someone else should come and take it to the next level. Sometimes the pastor may feel that his physical ability does not allow him to minister effectively and may need to have a break from the pastorate. Such pastors should be celebrated as well as appreciated before retirement. The leadership should work closely enough with the pastor to know when the intended date of retirement would be and possibly plan for a retirement party where they can allow the church, the pastor and his family to celebrate the ministry done together.

b. It is advisable to have a transition pastor who would come and help the church transition for a minimum of at least 6 months. This is a period when the church will recognize their history and what God has done through them and among them. It is also a grieving and healing period. The church should then be helped in recognizing their Strengths, Weaknesses, Abilities and Threats. Using this they can now strategize on the way forward and begin to pray for the next lead pastor who will guide and lead them in the ministry.

c. Work with BCBC District Ministry Centre in developing the transition strategy. See available resources at bcbc.ca

2. Relocation to another pastorate in response to God’s leading.

a. A pastor may feel it’s time to serve in another location or church. This is healthy too. However, there may be reasons that necessitate such a decision. Work with BCBC District Ministry Centre to determine what’s going on so that any issues in the church that would make a pastor move from the ministry are addressed and resolved.

b. This scenario would also require a transition pastor who can help the church deal with any issues that come up. These might include leadership restructuring, policies and constitutional changes. Part of the transition may include confronting an unhealthy church culture.

3. Relocation due to conflict in the church. This is less-than an ideal situation and may need outside help.

a. The departure of a pastor is a good time to revaluate and/or redefine the mission and work of the church.
b. A transition pastor should be called to facilitate for healing and restoration of relationships.

4. Removal from the pastorate due to ministry incompetency or doctrinal error. This will require the same strategy as point 3 above.