The retirement of a pastor from his or her ministry is a unique and critical transition involving the pastor, spouse, staff, and congregation. Too often the retirement of the pastor is approached with secrecy, a lack of openness, and an attitude of "biding our time."

Planning together for this transition offers the pastor and congregational leadership the opportunity to manage the transition. It also serves as the first step toward working together to do their best ministry in their last months or years together.

Developing and implementing a transition plan builds a solid foundation for ministry—for the congregation and the retiring pastor as they conclude their ministry together. We will walk through the necessary steps for "finishing with vitality" that include being able to:

• reflect on the years of ministry,

• identify the key factors for determining the right time to retire,

• reflect on how to use the remaining time with the congregation,

• develop a "step by step" transition plan with the session,

• identify the tasks for the pastor and session to manage the transition time,

• help the congregation understand of importance of setting boundaries.