Pastoral Ministry  Evaluations  Transitions  Relationship

Congregational Transitions Process

Ministry Transitions for Search Committees 
A guide for congregational search committees.

  • The Congregational Search Committee Version (MC Canada Ministry Transitions)
    • Instructions for Congregational Search Committee: Ministry Transitions Packet 
      • An overview of the process

    • When Your Church Seeks New Pastoral Leadership: Guide for the Church Board 
      • A step-by-step guide for the congregation upon the resignation or retirement of its pastor. Includes, accepting and communicating resignation, selection of a search committee, the committee's first tasks, exploring potential candidates, stage of negotiation, acceptance of a call.

    • When Your Church Seeks New Pastoral Leadership: Guide for the Search Committee 
      • A step-by-step guide for the congregational search committee. Includes first steps, exploring potential candidates, stage of negotiation, acceptance of a call.

    • Congregational Information Form
      • This form is to assist a congregation to present information concerning itself to prospective candidates for a pastoral leadership position. Completing the form will also assist the pastoral search committee in self-understanding as they assess the strengths and weaknesses that may exist at the time of pastoral transition. For more information, reference the Guides above.

    • Pastoral/Congregational Priorities: Twenty Pastoral Tasks
      • This worksheet is intended to be used by both congregations and prospective pastors. It is designed to identify both the perceived needs and expectations of the congregation and the priorities and vision of the pastoral candidate. The aim of this indicator is to aid in the matching of the congregation's expectations and the pastor's priorities. It can also serve as a useful discussion guide in the exploration/negotiation process. For more information, reference the Guides above.

    • The Search Committee Candidate Interview: Search Committee Version
      • The overarching goal of the interview is to discern whether a congregation and a pastoral candidate have sufficiently common expectations, commitment, values and theologies, etc., so that a pastor-congregational relationship can be established and covenants with each other can be made. This interview guide proposes goals, questions and assessment tool for the candidate and the search committee.

    • Interim Ministry: Supply or Transitional Pastor
      • Interim ministry is not new to the Mennonite constituency. We have used this term to describe pastors who have served congregations in a temporary capacity between longer-term permanent pastorates. There are two types of interim ministry. One is short term and the pastor is either a “supply pastor” or an “interim pastor.” The short-term pastor typically provides preaching and on-going pastoral care, but does not engage the church and its leadership around issues of vision or congregational process. A congregation may choose this plan when there is a very brief time before the long-term pastor is to arrive. Supply pastor works best if the congregation is in a healthy place.
      • The second type is a transitional pastor who comes for a year to two years. This pastor is trained to assist a congregation to make good transitions from one pastor to the next. There are times when the congregation must stop and reflect on their attitudes, their behaviors, and their structures. It is a good time to make changes under the leadership of a trained transitional pastor. One of these important congregational moments is during the transition from one pastor to another.

    • Reporting Progress to the Congregation Concerning Our Search for a New Pastor 
      • A poster for communicating the status (timeline/progress) of the pastoral search to the congregation. Communication Sheet for posting 11x17 version

    • Leadership Enrichment Fund Policy

    • Covenant Regarding Ethics in Ministry


The installation of a minister is usually planned as part of a service of worship and celebration. In this service the congregation, the new pastor and significant people in his/her life and regional church representatives witness and take part in the covenant that sets forth the mutual relationship between the minister and this congregation. It is a time asking God’s blessing and strength to live out the covenant that people and pastor have made. 

Often the Worship Committee or a special committee with representation from the Search Committee plans the service of installation. The following are items to consider in the planning: 

  • Arrange a suitable date when most of the congregation, the pastor and significant people in their lives are able to be there.
  • Contact the leadership administrative assistant to arrange for MCEC representation. This should be done as early in the planning as possible because staff schedules are often filled well in advance, especially in peak transition times.
  • Plan to spend some time discussing the implications of A Covenant Regarding Ethics in Ministry with Elders, Church Council or other appropriate bodies in your congregation. You are encouraged to use Ethics in Ministry, Section IV A Shared Understanding of Ministerial Leadership as a resource for your discussions. This covenant will be signed as part of the service of installation. 
  • Arrange to delegate other aspects of the celebration (e.g., food, taking pictures).
  • Delegate someone to develop a litany of installation and inform people of their parts in it. Often this includes a prayer of dedication by the regional church representative or a leader from the congregation. Make sure all the participants know what is expected of them. Sample litanies are available from the MCEC office by contacting the leadership administrative assistant. The Minister’s Manual also has some forms that may be used.
  • Arrange for transfer of membership  for the pastor (and spouse) prior to the installation, either during the same or another service.
  • The service of installation is a good opportunity to thank the Search Committee and MCEC Resource Person publicly for their work in calling the new pastor.
  • Prior to the service the Resource Person should be invited to submit any expenses (e.g. travel, phone calls, photo copying, etc.) they have incurred as part of their work. These should be reimbursed, along with a modest honorarium.

Resources:  Minister’s Manual, Faith and Life Press and Herald Press, 1998. /  A Shared Understanding of Ministerial Leadership, MennoMedia, 2017 

  • Ethics in Ministry (from Mennonite Polity) (shared understanding – Section IV page 55 - 72)
  • For sample job descriptions, contact the Leadership Desk.

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