Q & A: What to Consider When Transitioning to a New Church

Q & A: What to Consider When Transitioning to a New Church


Moving to a new church can be a real challenge. You want to make sure, first of all, that you answered answered as many questions as possible before making the final decision. In our post, Should You Stay or Should You Go? 7 Questions To Ask, we answer several questions about moving to a new ministry. Now, we talk to someone who has experienced several transitions…

Meet Chad Owens! Chad is the Kids Pastor at Grace Church in Overland Park, KS (follow him @ChadOwens12). Both he and his lovely wife, Ali, are passionate and love serving kids and families in the local community. Chad also travels and speaks at children’s ministry conferences and seminars.

As a veteran Children’s Pastor who has served in multiple ministry environments, Chad Owens brings great insight into the nature of transitioning to a new role, adapting to a new culture, and excelling in various types and sizes of teams. We sat down with him to explore his thoughts on those topics!

Q: What are the most important things to consider when entering into a new ministry environment?

A: Adjusting and navigating through all the different cultures.

There are three kinds of cultures. One would be the staff culture, the next would be the church culture and then the community culture.

As a pastor, I have to be inward focused but also outward focused. I have to learn the staff culture, the church culture and also the community culture. For me, those are three different cultures that I’m learning how to navigate through.

I think it’s a matter of assessing, studying, talking to people, getting to know families, getting to know what their needs are. That has been a big help as far as navigating through the different kinds of cultures.

When it comes to staff culture, I will say the importance of getting to know your staff is crucial. Getting to know them meaning…

  • What are their spiritual gifts?
  • What are their personality types?
  • What are their love languages?
  • What are their family dynamics?

Getting to know those kinds of things are important when it comes to leading a staff.

There are things that are in the handbook and there are things that are not in the handbook. I have to learn what those things are. There are some things that are taught and there are some things that are caught. I have to know, “What are those things that I have to catch?”

I answer the community culture in this sense…

  • What are the needs of the families in and around the church?
  • What are their primary needs and how can we meet those needs?

I think as a pastor I’ve become, by the grace of God, very successful in those things because I’ve put the right tools in place.

Q: Which one of those three has proven to be the most challenging?

A: That’s a good question. I would have to say church culture would be the hardest for me. It’s the hardest because it takes the longest to really grab a hold of. Most people don’t make it within the first six months of an organization because they drown in church culture. They get lost in it.

For example, one of the churches I served was constantly changing, constantly evolving to be relevant to their community. But with a staff, you can just love on them, get to know them. Their lives are consistent, for the most part, but church culture is forever changing.

Q: How does the size of the church and the size of your team affect your role as a Children’s Pastor?

When I transitioned to a larger church, I began doing more overseeing than anything. That’s the difference between both worlds. The bigger the church, the bigger the staff, the more you’re coaching people than you are doing the work yourself. In New York, I was coaching people but I was really hands on with programs and with the people. The people looked to me as their pastor. I wasn’t just their children’s pastor. I was really hands on. They would come to me for advice, for prayer, they would ask me to come over to talk to their kids about their behavior at school. Those kinds of things were very much happening there. Not so much in California because it was a bigger organization and it took layers for me to really be hands on. There were more people that you had to talk to before you kind of got to me. In a sense that’s good and that’s bad. For the most part, I love being more hands on.

Q: What’s been the most difficult part of that transition from star point guard to coach?

A: Delegation. That’s been the challenge. When you go from doing everything yourself and you’re having to depend on volunteers. They work full time, they have families. When it’s all said and done, if the work doesn’t get done, that’s my responsibility. So I took on a heavy load of responsibility.

When I went to a larger team, there was that struggle of having to let go of that responsibility because I’m a perfectionist. I had to give people the permission to fail. At the same time failure is not an option. So there was that tension there that caused that growth in my leadership.

What is one thing you have learned about transitioning in ministry?

(please share in comments below)

Jeremy O'Neill on Twitter
Jeremy O'Neill
Weekend Elementary Director at The Grove Community Church
Jeremy was born and raised in sunny Southern California. He's served in children's ministry for the last ten years, five years volunteering and five years on staff. He currently serves as the Elementary Weekend Director at The Grove Community Church. He’s a strong believer in creative communication, leadership development and vision casting. He loves to geek out over things like baseball, tech stuff and even graphic design. He’s still waiting to build a family of his own but he has promised to raise some Godly young Angels fans.

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