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I remember the first time I sensed the changing of seasons in my ministry. Standing in the doorway of my office, I watched the senior pastor listen to a new staff member—the way he used to listen to me.

Things had changed around me and, for whatever reason, I hadn't changed with them. My gut wrenched. Suddenly, I realized I was outside of what used to be my territory.

Because churches are living, breathing organisms, they change as they grow. They morph from season to season, dropping leaves and setting new buds. This can bring unexpected opportunities. It can also close familiar doors.

In the church, success and longevity hinge on knowing whether to hold on or let go, when to build a cocoon and when to break out of one. Mandatory skills include doing a job well, but also periodically finding new ways to do the job as the rules change. An associate may lead several different specialized ministries during his or her career, even in a single church.

My penchant is for start-ups. I love ...

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