Making the Most of Change

Change. We all encounter it. Most of us do not like it! Change happens throughout life and in all parts of our lives, both professionally and personally. Author William Bridges discusses change and transition in his book Making the Most of Change. This information is helpful for clergy and congregations that are going through a pastoral transition. It can also be useful for our conference as we prepare to implement the redistricting plan.

William Bridges shares this: “It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions.” Change is situational. A change would be a pastor leaving for a new appointment. A change would be a church adjusting worship times. A change would be moving from nine districts to five districts. 

Transition is psychological, an internalizing process, with three phases. The three phases include ending and letting go, the neutral zone, and the new beginning. When processed, these phases support an individual as they come to terms with the change. An example of the first phase of a transition would be a pastor processing feelings related to leaving a congregation and community as part of the first phase. The neutral zone would be the month of June as a pastor and family know they are moving, are packing but waiting for the actual move to a new community. The pastor and family are trying to wrap their minds around saying goodbye and preparing for the pending change. The final phase begins after the pastor and family arrive to the new community and begin adjusting to the new setting.

Transition work isn’t optional. Bridges notes that working the phases of the transition is necessary in order for the change to work as planned. With transitions, comes a roller coaster of emotions as someone prepares for the change. Feelings related to the change may be different if the change is welcomed or unwelcomed. Some feelings for a welcomed change might be optimism, doubt, realism, contentment. Some feelings for an unwelcomed change might be denial, fear, anger, sadness, resignation and eventually acceptance.

There’s an article that shares the new district boundaries beginning July 1, 2022. A list of the churches within each new district is also available. Some congregations will be experiencing a change in districts and in district superintendents. All congregations will be experiencing a change in the size of your district. Districts may experience change in leadership teams. Change is hard. Transitions are even harder. 

How can we prepare ourselves for this transition into five districts? It can begin with acknowledging what may be ending. As we wait, we can review the information and prepare our minds for the new districts to be fully operational in July. During this time, know that the Cabinet continues to be in ongoing conversations about how to live into larger districts. It will mean doing some things differently! The new beginning offers opportunity for new energy for laity engagement. Be on the lookout for some networking and learning opportunities in the coming year.

All of this should be surrounded in prayer. I encourage you to stay connected to communication from the Conference office. You can do this by subscribing to Net News, the laity newsletter or social media. I encourage you to embrace change and process feelings related to change. I challenge you to have an open mind and look for ways to engage!