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Transitional Ministry
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Published August 2021
By Marilynn Vanderstaay

Taking the Acumen of Personal and Business Development to the Church

“The most important key to successful ministry transition is to restore the church, the existing ministry and its congregation, to health by establishing or reaffirming its theological beliefs, its statement of faith and defining its vision to move ahead with a new lead pastor,” says transitional minister Keith Shields.

Keith, a former executive pastor, church planter and author, uses his skills as an executive coach, mentor, and pastor to pastors. to help individuals and organizations and churches take their next step in the journey toward purpose and intent.

Using the acumen… the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions and more used in business and personal development… he resolutely leads the church through a season of renewal series of introspective procedures towards meaningful change and wholeness. “…to present her as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5: 27

I caught up with Keith at his home in Calgary where he was settling back in after 13 months at Hillside Church, 138 Thompson Road in London that suddenly lost its lead minister in spring 2020. Using the tools of transitional ministry, he effectively transitioned the elders and the congregation to a healthy place that is prepared to receive its new lead pastor in August.

Until recently when a church lost a lead pastor for whatever reason, its leaders would find an interim pastor to preach, fill in on pastoral care, and short-term administration. while doing a search for a new pastor.

The advent of transitional ministry is adding a revitalization process in which the church, its elders, its existing ministers, and its congregation. takes the time to first heal and grieve and perhaps learn from its loss.

Under the leadership of the transitional minister, who acts as the church’s lead pastor for the duration of the development, the whole church, using deep examination, works on identifying its core values before starting a search for a new lead pastor. Church leaders themselves are trained as renewal specialists so the pastoral search can be done from a posture of health.

“It is a together process in which we are committed to hearing the Lord’s voice,” says Keith. That renewal can include facilitating closure to the past, spiritual and relationship revitalization, enabling organizational health, and establishing pastoral specifications.

The concept of transitional ministry was developed by Cam Taylor, Hugh Fraser and Alan Simpson, founders of the Transitional Leadership Network team whose belief is times of transition are windows of opportunity for churches to experience transformational turning points toward health and mission intent to better serve the body of Christ.

To facilitate that purpose, they have developed a leadership network that trains and supports coach-like servant leaders to work with congregations during pastoral transition to bring greater health and vitality.

Not a placement agency, TLN hosts a growing membership based online roster for active transitional ministers available for assignment. “We recommend transitional pastors gather their own testimonials. If we know a transitional pastor has a good track record, we may mention that, but still make sure the church is responsible for the hire,” says Taylor.

TLN may match prospective transitional pastors with a church emphasizing the decision is for the church to make based on its due diligence. The church is responsible for doing its own hiring, interviewing, reference checking. TLN also does not set fees for transitional pastors. The local church negotiates the fee with the transitional pastor. TLN suggests it should be based on what it paid its senior pastor plus consideration for extra expenses including travel and accommodations. Keith was fortunate to stay with his daughter who lives in Simcoe. Due to the season of COVID 19 there were no trips home to Calgary to see his wife, Maureen. For more information about the Transitional Leadership Network go to

Keith Shields has a diverse history of ministry and work. He ministered as an Executive Pastor at Bow Valley Christian Church in Calgary. He served as an entrepreneurial Church Starter in Calgary and Vancouver. He has been a Lab Scientist in the Molecular Diagnostic Lab of the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

He is an Executive Coach and Coach Trainer for Logan Leadership, a Consultant to Churches and Non-Profit Organisations with Vision Ministries Canada, an Advanced Transitional Pastor with the Transitional Leadership Network. In all these enterprises he is a listener, counselor, and pastor. Keith has a Master of Arts in Theology (Regent College), a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology (University of Calgary), and a Bachelor of Religious Education (Alberta Bible College).

He has blogged for more than 10 years, authored two books, and is always working on the next idea. For more information about Keith or to contact him go to

Christian Life in London welcomes Marilynn Vanderstaay to the Editorial Team

We at Christian Life in London are very pleased to welcome Marilynn Vanderstaay to the team of editorial contributors. Marilynn is a deep-rooted Christian whose life as a Believer since she was just three is intertwined with everything she puts her hands to professionally and personally.

A community investment specialist, she is a journalist and columnist who writes for community, local and national publications celebrating life and successes, yet when necessary, exposing the not so nice. Her columns and e-zines are read and enjoyed.

She is a soft skills trainer/inspirational speaker. A fabric artisan whose works hang in a gallery in Old Montreal and are published in a coffee table book.

And she is an impresario who organizes faith, friends, food, and fun events. And yes, she is a five-time life threatening cancer overcomer, healed by Jesus to declare the illustrious acts of the Lord. Psalm 118:17