Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I came across a video on YouTube which reunited the stars of the Broadway musical Phantom of the Opera. Although we could slice and dice and chop the whole genre of musicals apart, there is no question that some songs have entered our artistic culture.  Plus, I love a well-sung song.

During this video, there are a couple of significant points.  At the beginning, famed composer Andrew Lloyd Webber introduces the actor/singer who originated the role of the Phantom: Michael Crawford (who also starred in one of my favorite movies: CondormanYes, I am a geek). He is obviously touched by the response of the crowd as he is recognized for the trails he has blazed. The other point comes during the performance of "Music of the Night" (it starts at 7:40 is you just want to skip to it).

On stage during the video are four of the actors who have played the role of the Phantom over the years.  They take turns singing different portions of the song, to the enthusiastic reception of the crowd. And then, as the music draws near to its climax, out walks the man who is the new Phantom. He is greeted by his predecessors as together they finish the song.  But just as we think this deep moment is enough, Michael Crawford returns to the stage to both honor the new Phantom and be honored by the new Phantom.

I know you're all waiting for the "deeply significant or ultimately practical" point to all this.  Here it is:

Never underestimate the power of transition.
Did you ever wonder why there is so much pomp and pagentry as Presidents are sworn in? Because it shows an orderly transition of power. It's done slowly and deliberately, with Inaguration Day events that seem to never end! Can you imagine the outgoing President simply leaving without a farewell or the new President taking the oath of office and then dismissing the crowds?  Citizens would wonder, "What just happened?"
Sometimes the turnover in ministries is so rapid as to leave people bewildered.  Of course, there are times when a volunteer or staff member has crossed an unacceptable line and needs to be shown the door as quickly as possible. But at other times, the best thing that can happen is that the new and the old let the class, the group, or the congregation know that there is an orderly change, a passing of the proverbial baton. 
There are various ways to accomplish this.  Here are just a few:
  • Going away and welcoming parties
  • Formal introduction of the new staff member by the outgoing staff member
  • Slide show acknowledging the accomplishments of the departing staff
  • Passing on some symbol of the position: a gavel, a big stick (yup, been in that kind of ministry!), or a hat.
  • Leaving notes with tips and advice in unexpected places.
There are no doubt other transitional techniques, but you get the idea.  Whatever you do, if at all possible, harness the power of the transition.  It quiets anxieties, helps get everyone on board for the upcoming changes, and lets everyone know that the ministry will continue.  After all, U.S. Presidents do it and Phantoms of Operas do it.
What things have you done or been a part of doing to ensure a great transition?

No comments:

Post a Comment