Understanding Transition Points – It’s Time to Say Goodbye

“Goodbye” does not mean relationships are over.  It means they have changed.  When one says “goodbye” to a kindergarten child on the very first day of their school career, the parenting relationship changes, but does not end.  When one says “goodbye” to a son or daughter who is off to college for the first time, the relationship changes.  When one says “goodbye” to a son or daughter at the altar of marriage, the relationship changes.  If the parent does not say “goodbye” then severe damage occurs, not only for the relationship, but for the development of the child into a responsible adult.
Jesus said in John 16:7, But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselorwill not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  (NIV)  Jesus was limited by time and space.  If He had not ascended we would have limited access to the knowledge and power of God through Jesus.  The Holy Spirit is not limited by time or space or the number of people who can access Him.  Jesus’ followers can accomplish much more since Jesus ascended than we could have if He had stayed on the earth.  The Holy Spirit provides access for everyone to the love of God, His power, His wisdom, and His understanding of the Word.
New churches have a very high dependence on the church planter.  If the church planter stays too long, then the church planter will cripple the growth of the new church.  Instead of learning to depend on the Holy Spirit and the Word of God for guidance, it will depend on the church planter.  This is unhealthy.  It severely limits the potential of the church, and in the worse cases can kill a new church before it even has a chance to develop.
Church Planters need to prepare the churches they start for the time of separation.  This is done by continually going to the Bible for answers to all questions.  It is done through prayer and seeing that God answers the new believer’s prayers.  It is done by equipping leadership and letting that leadership lead from the very beginning as they listen to the Holy Spirit and depend on the Word of God for their guidance.
If the church planter stays too long he runs the danger of taking the place of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church.  It will be the church planter who points out sin instead of the Holy Spirit convicting of sin as the Word of God reveals it.  It will be the church planter who answers the prayers of the church by providing advice and assistance instead of the Holy Spirit providing all their needs.  When there are problems and persecutions the church will turn to the church planter instead of God for solutions and salvation.
If the church planter has done his or her job, then the church has seen the church planter model a mature Christian lifestyle and leadership.  The church planter has equipped the church to handle the Word of God, pray and listen to the Spirit of God, and minister to the people around them.  As leaders emerge in the new church the church planter watches them lead, make their mistakes, helps them recover from mistakes by listening to the Word of God and His Spirit, and mature.  And at the right time the church planter leaves, knowing that the church is in good hands, the hands of the Holy Spirit.
Plan for and watch for the “Goodbye.”  It’s better to do it too early than to do it too late.  If the church planter does it too late, then he runs the risk of taking on the role of the Holy Spirit or keeping the church from developing a listening ear for the Holy Spirit.
Know when it’s time to say, “Goodbye.”  It’s not the end of the relationship.  It’s the start of a new and better relationship.
David Watson
From Cairo, Egypt

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