What I see in the year ahead
In the rhythms of our ministry life, this tends to be the season where we begin to look to figure out what's next. After the sprint that started with the new school year followed by advent, many of us are just now getting the opportunity to truly sit down, exhale, and dream a little about the future. After the year that we have just been through, I do believe that we have earned the opportunity to exhale and dream.
It is safe to assume that 2021 is going to be a fascinating year for churches. After a year of innovating on the fly and significant changes in how we do ministry, I am convinced that the year ahead will be just as full of change, just of a different kind. As I look ahead to 2021, I believe that we will see a significant amount of leadership changes and serious structural changes. What do I mean by this? Glad you asked.
One of my big takeaways from the last half of 2020 is that we are about to see a significant wave of senior leadership transition in the Church. Throughout the second half of the year, I was surprised by the number of conversations I had with pastors who were considering leaving their church in the near future. This conversation took three basic forms:
- It's time to step up: This is a conversation that I have had most frequently with youth pastors, campus pastors, and worship pastors. They are coming out of 2020 asking themselves if this chapter of their ministry is over and if it is time to start exploring a different role, especially lead and executive pastor. If you are in the process of discerning what's next, we'd love to have a conversation. Or, if you are attempting to determine whether an executive pastor role is the right fit for you, our friend Mike Bonem is going to be leading a lab for new and potential executive pastors called Becoming a Second Chair Leader.
- It's time to step out: Many pastors are tired. 2020 was hard work of a kind that seminary never anticipated. Because of this, many pastors I have been talking to believe that it might be the right time for them to explore other opportunities. If you are in this season, this free resource will be helpful.
- It's time to step aside: These conversations began in July and August and typically involved a long-term pastor realizing that their church needs someone with a different skill set to lead them into a new season of ministry. This realization has helped them to begin the process of praying through what succession looks for in their church and how to set the next pastor up well. If you are in this season, we'd love to help.
After all of the change that has happened over the last 12 months, the mere thought of another year of change is exhausting. Our temptation will be to avoid change at all cost; avoid this temptation! For most churches, the changes made in 2020 were on the fly. We spent the year experimenting, pivoting, and throwing things against the wall. This was exhausting, but it was good! We compressed a decade's worth of innovation into one year.
But now, we need to lean into the structural changes required to make the shifts made in 2020 sustainable for the long term. 2021 will be a year of asking questions like "which areas of ministry should we be prioritizing?" or "should we be building a new building?" and the ever-popular, "does our budget line up with our priorities?" This will be the year that we work to bring about the deeply needed organizational change that our churches may have needed for decades... but are now ready to embrace.
We know that churches generally struggle with change, which makes the thought of structural changes deeply terrifying to some. If you need some help navigating change, Mike Bonem will be helping churches figure out how to lead change in a healthy way in early 2021. This will be a great group, designed to help you lead through the changes your church needs... and keep your job in the process.
As you are leaning into 2021, I'd love to hear what you are seeing. What do you see as the biggest challenge for your church in the year ahead? How can we pray for and partner with you?
We're rooting for you this year!
P.S. Are you getting ready to start a search? Let's talk!
Matt has served the local church for over two decades as a youth pastor, church planter, and executive pastor. Originally from Baltimore, Matt currently lives in Orlando, with his wife Theresa, and has a B.S. in Youth Ministry from Nyack College and an M.Div. and MBA from Baylor University. Certified as an Urban Church Planter Coach by Redeemer City to City and as a StratOp facilitator by the Paterson Center, Matt has made a career of helping churches thrive through intentionality, clarity, and creating healthy cultures. He is convinced that a healthy church is led by a healthy team with great chemistry, and loves partnering with Chemistry’s churches to do great things for the Kingdom.