Culture -

4 tips to take the terror out of ministry transition —

By Caitlin Magnuson

Created on 10/21/2019

My husband, Jon, and I know ministry transition well.

He has served our current church as the lead pastor for six years and I have been the youth pastor for four years. As a community, we have stood in the place of transition regarding lead pastor, bookkeeper, secretary and now youth pastor a total of seven times. We understand the pain that can come from confusion of details gone unchecked and we know the peace that comes from information being handled gently. We also know the anxiety that can come from the unknown. As we speak, we’re in a slow and steady transition period and it’s happening in a beautiful way because of these things …


1. Listen for God’s prompts in Scripture.

The beauty of hearing the story of Elijah and Elisha during a CIY MOVE was that my intern and I could directly hear – at a pivotal time – that I was going to be needing to step out and for her to step up sooner than we realized. I walked away from MOVE this summer with total and complete peace. The story of Elijah passing the mantle to Elisha helped me to see how God is woven into components of our stories in ways we don’t acknowledge as significant in the moments in which they occur. The kids seemed to rely more on my intern and less on me, and another adult leader walked away from MOVE totally empowered and ready to make decisions to dive more into our youth ministry.


2. Know that fast isn’t always best.

The intern who will take over my position is planning to graduate in the spring, and we’ve enjoyed the longevity in which God has brought her to this role. It was not a plan we fabricated – she joined the youth ministry program as a student, then started assisting with the program two years ago. Her journey has taught us it’s about seeing where God is leading and JOINING Him in it. The future youth pastor of our church knows the DNA of the program because she’s a product of it. If transition must happen fast in your ministry, it must be done gently.


3. Don’t be secretive – be sensitive.

In moments of transition we want to continue to be sensitive about what’s going on, what God is doing and how to dispense the information to our community. It’s important to be open and honest so that nothing is left up to interpretation.


4. Lean into your personal faith.

CIY was a part of my life as a teenager and always played a big role in my journey with Jesus. The event always served as a spiritual pin each year and grounded me to where I was and where I sensed the Holy Spirit calling me. As a result, taking other adults and teenagers continued a trajectory over the years that almost made it impossible NOT to go. God provided in bigger ways than we could have anticipated with each transition we have faced. Glorify His name for new lessons and opportunities.


10_06_Magnusons1.jpgCaitlin Magnuson is the youth pastor and her husband, Jon, is the lead pastor at Beacon Church in Litchfield, Illinois.