There are basically two kinds of churches: (1) the growing kind, and (2) the dying kind. Both present challenges. One is more exciting than the other, and one is more depressing than the other. I’ve worked with both kinds and presently, I am working with a growing church.
The reason a dying church is a dying church is because its leadership and members want everything to remain the same. What is ironic about this mindset is that things don’t remain the same for such a church: they deteriorate. Slowly and surely, guests stop visiting, members grow older, new souls aren’t added, people die and before too long, the church has ceased to exist (or at best is barely hanging on).
However, growing churches are constantly changing, growing and going through necessary transitions. Such transitions take place when staff changes, when membership numbers grow, when needs grow, when facility needs change, when individual members grow spiritually, etc. Growing churches are constantly adjusting to new things and new people. This change can also be called ‘transition.’ Transitioning can take place on many levels. The most obvious are in staffing, ministries, attendance and membership expansion. While some of us may be uncomfortable with such things, we need to look at such things as the blessings of church growth and transitioning.
Consider some things about this thing called transition that may help us look at it as a blessing and not as a curse.
Transition Is Normal; We Experience & See It Everyday. We have a certain amount of control over the type of transition it is and the speed of the transition.
Transition Is Helpful (when handled properly). You cannot be timid about transition and you must be wise as it occurs.
Transition Is not an Enemy; Satan is the Enemy. We’ve all heard the statement, “we shouldn’t change just for change sake.” I think most of us would agree. However, any change (and those advocating it) is considered evil by some. The intent and the basis (is it biblical or not?) of change can be from the Lord or from the devil himself. Remember that advocates of change are not necessarily the enemy; Satan is the enemy and he is behind any change that is evil.
Transition is neither good nor evil in itself. What got us to the transition state and how it got us there is a moral issue. We cannot, we must not, we should not and we will not compromise the Word of God for any reason. Our numerical and spiritual growth should always be based upon God’s will—and God’s Will makes it plain that we should always be growing.
As we transition we need to do so gracefully and in a Christ like manner.
Recommended reading: Transitions Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges (subtitled: Strategies for Coping with the Difficult, Painful and Confusing Times in Your Life).