Transitional Ministry often enables a congregation or parish to work through each of these areas. They are not strictly sequential; throughout a transition time work may be done on all these areas in various ways. Those trained in Transitional Ministry are equipped to facilitate these tasks using a range of skills and tools adapted for each situation.
Telling Our Story
As the congregation's stories are told, heard and reflected on there is a chance to come to terms with significant events and trends in the history, and to recognise important themes and values. There will be more than one telling of the congregation's story. Only if we have a strong sense of the story to date will we be ready to look forward and embrace a new chapter in the story, which may be different but needs to build on what has gone before. Some things will need to be grieved, some things celebrated, some things left behind, some carried forward.
Discovering a Present Identity
Out of our stories come a sense of identity. This is who we are and what we stand for. Without a sense of congregational identity it is very hard to set a future direction to enter into a relationship with any new leadership, or to know what shape of ministry will serve the mission of the congregation best.
Exploring Future Directions
What are the options to support and sustain the mission of this parish or congregation? Congregations no longer need to think of a one-size-fits-all approach to ministry, and so a ministry transition is not simply a vacancy between interchangable ministers. What is the mission of this congregation? What kind of ministry will serve that well?
Encouraging New and Renewed Leadership
Each era of ministry arrangement fosters its own cluster of leaders. Over time a particular ordained minister will inevitably mean that the group of those offering leadership of various kinds in the congregation becomes fairly predictable and established. A time of ministry transition is an opportunity to allow people to review and adjust their roles. This also provides an opportunity for new people to emerge as leaders.
Renewing Denominational and Ecumenical Links
The relationship of a congregation to the wider church is often shaped over time by those in leadership. A time of ministry transition is a time for the congregation to renew its links and find new ways of drawing on and contributing to the life of the wider (regional, national and ecumenical) church.
Committing to New Leadership and Future
Whatever the shape of the future the congregation can be helped to prepare well for it and embrace it. Where a new person is to be appointed, this involves preparing well to welcome the new person and to establish a constructive relationship for sharing leadership and ministry. Where the transition is to some form of ministry other than an appointment, it is still vital that the new beginning is prepared for well and there is a high degree of ownership among the congregation.