Each congregation that experiences pastoral change has a couple tasks to complete during the time of transition. The first is to calm down and recognize that God is present. Depending on circumstances, this may be more or less difficult and take more or less time.
Once things have calmed down, the second task is for the congregation to “define itself.” Perhaps this is a new term to you. It doesn’t include the word mission, but it definitely includes the concept of mission. To “define self” a congregation has to consider its gifts and past understanding of mission, the things it has done well in the past as well as the things it has done not so well. It has to study its community, and most important, it has to discern how it will be a part of God’s mission - the sharing of the Gospel - with and without words.
At Lord of Life, the pandemic has necessitated some adjustments in the process I (Pastor Carol) usually follow with a congregation that has experienced significant challenges. Or, it could be said that the pandemic has opened the possibility of some creativity which has led to this Moving Forward process.
Moving Forward is Lord of Life’s work at defining itself. It involves four workgroups, each looking at a different aspect of the congregation’s life together as a community of faith. Each workgroup will have assigned tasks to complete, and each workgroup will become the ‘expert’ in its particular area.
Moving Forward is a process of discernment of God’s work in Christ in the congregation in its history, right now, and in the future. It is a congregational effort, and the greater the congregational involvement, the better the self-definition, the better the discernment, and the better able you will be to move into calling a new pastor.
How can you get involved? First, consider your own interests, gifts and experience in the congregation. Second, check out each of the workgroups. Third, pray for discernment in which are you are called to work in. Fourth, click on the ‘sign up’ link! The facilitator(s) of your workgroup will contact you and invite you to the first meeting.
Thank you, people of God at Lord of Life, for your faithfulness and your gifts. Thank you, God, for the people at Lord of Life.