Church planters understand the idea of transition better than most. I had the privilege of attending the Acts 29 North America conference in October and met brothers and sisters from all over the world. In talking with them about their ministries, this is the word I heard the most: transition.
Some were moving from one meeting place to another. Others were staff members at their church and recently changed roles. Many spoke about transitioning from one service to two. These are all common experiences. Often, the lives of pastors and church leaders are marked by change. It’s difficult, but this is exactly the kind of ministry Jesus modeled. He didn’t get settled in any place for too long—he showed us that leaders adapt and seek to serve in whatever capacity is needed.
Here are four ways Jesus experienced transition during his earthly ministry, and how that provides comfort for us today.
Change of Heart
Ministry can be unpredictable. You may head into your job on Monday morning with a lengthy to-do list, but when you arrive, there’s someone waiting for you. They need prayer and encouragement, so your to-do list must wait. God places people in our lives for a reason, and when their hearts are hurting, we have an opportunity to model the love of Jesus.
He was masterful at this—he touched the untouchable, showed kindness to the lonely, and met their tears with compassion. Jesus never left a conversation without offering an invitation to receive forgiveness and to enjoy an eternal relationship with him. He sought to heal hearts, and we can do the same. Transition and change are difficult, especially when it makes us uncomfortable. But it keeps us from complacency and helps direct our focus to the task at hand: making disciples to the glory of the Father. Click To Tweet
Change of Pace
Jesus recognized the need for prioritizing both public and private ministry. He never worried about slowing down and didn’t live in a state of hurry. Many around him expected him to be a prominent leader, but his care for others was gentle and focused.
Jesus’s example of serving publicly and then pulling away for time alone with the Father should compel us to think about our own ministry. The world is fast-paced, but Jesus didn’t let that affect his approach. What would it look like for us to do the same? We must prioritize time alone with our heavenly Father, just as Jesus did. Not everything has to be seen. A slower pace sets realistic expectations and allows us to truly see people where they are.
Change of Location
In church planting, a change in location is nothing new. Most of us meet in renovated buildings that used to be something very different than a church or rent spaces from local schools or organizations. It’s difficult to borrow physical space, knowing it isn’t yours to permanently inhabit. But even with a permanent building, transition and change still occur because it’s a normal part of life and ministry.
Jesus didn’t stay in one place very long; he was constantly traveling. He slept in a new place many times, but he never let that mobility of ministry distract him from his purpose. Locations bring expectations and may carry a certain sense of status, but may we keep the perspective of Jesus in our minds as we steward what he’s provided.
Change of Role
It isn’t uncommon to start a job and then transition to a new role because the surrounding needs change. Sometimes we start out on one path and then find ourselves on another. For smaller teams especially, doing things you didn’t think you’d be doing is a regular occurrence. For the pastor or leader, it’s important to be willing to change and be open to the needs of your local church.God places people in our lives for a reason, and when their hearts are hurting, we have an opportunity to model the love of Jesus. Click To Tweet
Jesus physically grew from an infant to a toddler, to a teenager, and eventually became a man with a ministry. He then invited men and women to learn from him because he knew the time would come for him to return to heaven. He was forming disciples who would eventually make more disciples. Just as Jesus grew, his disciples grew, too.
Transitional eyewear is made to adapt to the surrounding environment to optimize functionality. Serving in ministry requires this same perspective. The willingness to adapt and adjust to the needs of today is essential for church leaders.
Transition and change are difficult, especially when it makes us uncomfortable. But it keeps us from complacency and helps direct our focus to the task at hand: making disciples to the glory of the Father. This was Jesus’s mission during his earthly ministry—a ministry that was marked by change. May we keep this in mind as we serve those around us and seek to remain focused on the task at hand.