Transition Story: How I Survived

Youth Specialties
August 23rd, 2010

My family has been transitioning out of a church family and youth ministry position where we had served for nine-plus years.  Saying good-bye was nothing short of hard, as you can imagine.  I learned a lot through the process.  I wanted to share some of my story over a series of three posts.

PART ONE: Some Things I Found Helpful in Preparation for the Transition

Praying for the new couple that would be eventually taking our place.  I think it’s wise to be enthusiastic about this part of the journey.  Who wouldn’t want the people that are coming in to replace the ministry you’ve invested in to be the ones that are called and equipped by God?  I prayed often – every time I thought about the students and student ministry.  Without realizing it, I believe that God was preparing my heart for the transition, too.  Maybe even preparing me to see the next couple through His eyes versus mine. 

Communicate openly with interviewees.  I fielded quite a few questions back and forth on Facebook, e-mail, and over several lunches with student ministry candidates.  This opened up the passions and genuine interest– or NOT — in those applying for the position and also made the transition more of a reality for me.  It started the process of my thinking about what I personally needed to do to prepare the ministry for the transition.

Cleaning house.  In addition to a lot of deep thinking about how to best prepare each element of the ministry for new leaders, there were the technical details of cleaning my files off the youth PC, transferring iTunes files from my personal laptop, and boxing up personal effects in my office and the youth room.  This process took way longer than I would have thought.  I guess it comes from making myself “at home” in my work environment.  I had stuff all over the place!

Leaving everyone in good shape.  It’s far too easy to let things slack a little when you realize that you’re not going to be around very long.  Fight that urge and instead push hard to finish with excellence.  Don’t let the student’s last camp experience or run of student services be a stinker because you have already thrown in the towel.  This applies to other areas as well: don’t neglect that last pile of receipts — they are calling out your name!  Leave in good relation with everyone – including your treasurer!

Don’t talk about your impending transition all the time.  I had a tendency to have a running countdown going on at all times in me head.  My problem was that I kept making that countdown public.  My wife and co-pastor had to remind me several times not to announce to students the “last time” we were doing each activity together or how many days we had left before our departure.  After a while, that gets old and probably makes it appear that you are looking for transition-sympathy from students. 

When we started making connections with Derick and Pam – the new student pastors – for the first time, it felt like it was God-ordained.  They seemed to be everything that we had been praying for as a staff.   In part two, I’ll share more about meeting them for the first time and our month-long transition period of working together. 

Youth Specialties

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