Formalize the Change

Click here to read a conversation introducing this section
Tim: Well, Paul, it’s been awhile, since we last talked. But, we have painstakingly worked through your suggestions. And the church is pretty excited about the proposal.

Paul: That’s great, Tim. Were there any problems along the way?

Tim: Well, some people gave us a lot of feedback. Others, not so much.

Paul: That’s not unusual. The key is to make sure everyone had the opportunity to participate and speak their thoughts.

Tim: Interestingly, some of the feedback contained ideas we hadn’t thought of.

Paul: How did you handle it?

Tim: At first, it was a bit unsettling. I thought that it meant we as a transition team were not thorough enough. But, then I realized that it created an opportunity to show that we were not rigid. Plus, one suggested change to the proposal, in particular, was a great idea! It definitely improved it.

Paul: So, where are things now?

Tim: Well, I think everyone is ready, as ready as we will ever be. I think the Lord has been gracious and is giving us a sense of unity and peace about the matter.

Paul: Sounds like it is time to make a decision. So, read on …

Ideas for Formalizing

It is important to formalize the change in leadership structure. Since this is a monumental time in the life of the church, we recommend this be done carefully and very publicly. Here are some things to consider:

Plan the decision

  • Determine when enough has been done to prepare the church, when the transition team senses the church is ready for a decision.
  • The transition team should lead this effort. It needs to be done carefully and through legitimate means, using the existing church constitution and decision-making policies.

Adopt BE for your church

  • Document all of the proceedings and verify that they were done properly.
  • The outgoing leadership team should affix their signatures to the document, indicating their agreement with the change.

Identify and affirm an interim elder team

  • If you are following Approach #1 (Function first, then Form), you already have a shepherding team, which we recommend becomes the interim elder team.
  • If you are following Approach #2 (Form first, then Function), the transition team will function as an interim elder team.
  • Prior to this, suggestions for changes to the interim elder team should be made to the transition team.
  • The main function of this team is to facilitate the “Identify and Train the Long-term Elders” process, coming up next.
  • The interim team should serve for one year. At the end of this period, there should recommendations to the church for long-term elders. The interim team would then resign, and the new council of long-term elders will assume all leadership and shepherding.
  • Have the church affirm the interim elder team in a visible, public way.


At this juncture, much work has been accomplished over a long period of time. A grand celebration should be planned to mark this a pivotal time in the life of the church.

What’s next?

At this point, the new structure is in place, with an interim elder team. We recommend that a one-year training process be taken up, facilitated by the interim elders. This would involve both the interim elders, plus any other men that have the potential for being elders. For this process, go on to the next section, “Identify and Train Elders.”