Congregations in Transition (CiT) is a coaching ministry created to address an emerging crisis among LCMC, NALC, and confessional ELCA churches: A shortage of available pastors for call.
This clergy shortage is due to an increasing number of older pastors reaching retirement age, and far fewer students graduating from seminaries than in years past. Compounding this crisis is the fact that some pastors are retiring earlier than they had planned due to pandemic-related congregational conflict and decreasing worship attendance.
As of February of 2022, just two years and six months since our ministry was launched, CiT has provided various levels of assistance to twenty congregations in transition.
For more detailed information regarding the kind of coaching assistance CiT provides, read the answers below to Frequently Asked Questions.
FAQ #1: So what kind of practical assistance can CiT provide for congregations in transition? That will depend on your circumstances. For example:
a. If your pastor has recently announced his or her upcoming retirement, your CiT coach will work with your pastor and congregational leaders to prepare for this time of transition. And if you decide that either a part-time or full-time interim minister will be needed, your coach will assist in finding and hiring that person.
b. If your congregation already has a vacancy and has organized a call committee, your coach will assist you in your search for your next long-term, “permanent” pastor. This can include finding qualified applicants, and advising you as you interview and ultimately discern which candidate is the right person to serve your congregation. The goal will be to walk alongside your call committee until your new pastor is “called and installed”.
FAQ #2: What is the financial cost to our congregation in return for the assistance provided by a CiT coach? Your congregation’s one-time fee for long-term coaching assistance is only $175. Why so little? Our coaches are retired pastors who are volunteering their time. Your $175 will be paid to Lutheran CORE to cover our administrative costs for this ministry.
FAQ #3: Are references available from congregations who have already benefited from the assistance Cit provides? Absolutely. Upon request we can provide references from churches who have successfully completed their transition and call process with the on-going assistance of their CiT coach. Two references are posted below.
FAQ 4: Is a formal contract involved with CiT? No. Your congregation can discontinue your working relationship with CiT at any time.
FAQ #5: Can our congregational leaders see any written CiT resources before deciding whether to utilize the assistance of a coach? Yes. You have only to ask.
FAQ #6: Is CiT coaching assistance strictly online and “at a distance”? Yes, our coaching is primarily online; e.g., via online video meetings, conference phone calls, emails, etc. Since almost all our coaches are retired clergy, online assistance allows us to work with multiple churches while still engaging in this ministry part-time. However, if your coach is willing, you may request a visit to your church; provided you cover all travel-related expenses.
FAQ #7: What happens if, even with the assistance of our coach, we are unable to identify and call a viable pastoral candidate? In that situation your coach can assist you in considering such options as finding a full-time or part-time interim pastor, and/or identifying one or more key lay leaders in your church willing to pursue online training so they might eventually provide pastoral support for your congregation.
FAQ #8: Who leads the Congregations in Transition ministry? Rev. Dr. Don Brandt is CiT Director and the author of the CiT written resources. He created this ministry out of the firm conviction that the current clergy supply crisis is putting the health and stability of hundreds of Lutheran congregations at risk. Pastor Brandt is a retired Lutheran pastor who has extensive consulting and coaching experience and has, over the years, coached pastors and lay leaders from over five hundred Lutheran congregations. For samples of his articles on congregational life and ministry simply do an online search using “Pastor Don Brandt”. You will easily find multiple articles he has written over the last two years for the Lutheran CORE newsletter.
FAQ #9: How do we sign up and/or get our additional questions answered? Simply contact Pastor Brandt directly. He lives in Salem, Oregon. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and his phone # is 503-559-2034.