How To Welcome A New Pastor
When a congregation welcomes a new pastor it is an exciting time -- a new beginning for both the congregation and its new pastor. St. Paul’s is experiencing one of those exciting times right now. How excited are you? Are you anxious to do something to help? Once the Call to the new pastor is confirmed, there are several things we can do that would be welcomed by the new pastor, I’m sure:
1) Pray for him. We’ve been praying for the Call Committee for almost a year. We’ve already begun praying for our new pastor while his family is getting ready for a big cross-country move. However, why not pray for him every day throughout the duration of his ministry? Once the honeymoon period is over and the daily grind of ministry begins, praying for our pastor will strengthen his ministry and bless him richly. 2) Send the pastor a “welcome” greeting card, note, or email. 3) Once he arrives, make sure to offer your name in each greeting for the first few weeks. Learning names is important to pastors and a huge undertaking.
While I was thinking about suggestions to list in this post, I remembered something I read a while ago and I just looked it up again because I remembered that it had some excellent advice. It was written by Brian McLaren. I’ll finish this post with his article, “Ten Commandments for Welcoming a New Pastor”. The commandments are worth reflecting on at this time.
Ten Commandments for Welcoming a New Pastor
I. Thou shalt not compare the old Pastor and the new Pastor, for the Lord thy God has made each person unique and wishes you to appreciate each original creation.
II. Thou shalt not expect everything to stay the same when the new Pastor arrives. Nor shalt thou resist change, nor assume that change is bad, but thou shalt trust that the Lord thy God isn’t finished with your church yet and is bringing change for your good and the good of your mission.
III. Thou shalt not make graven images of thine old grudges, nor shalt thou keep stale disappointments in the temple of thine heart, but thou shalt forgive and move on in the grace of the Lord thy God, for how can thou ask God for mercy unless thou give mercy from thine heart?
IV. Thou shalt not commit gossip, nor shalt thou fearfully complain, nor shalt thou listen to those who do, but instead thou shalt entreat them to adjust their attitudes and lighten up, for everything shall be alright, and in fact, shall turn out very well indeed – better than you can even imagine.
V. Thou shalt not commit nostalgia or say that the old days were better, for in so doing thou shalt make thy judgment come true. Be assured that the Lord thy God is not falling asleep at the wheel, but will be with thee and surprise thee with abundant blessings, more than thou canst contain or count.
VI. Thou shalt not factionalize nor create “us-them” divisions, but thou shalt unify with thy brothers and sisters even when they annoy or confuse you.
VII. Thou shalt not come to the new pastor with your demands, pressure, complaints, bad reports, manipulations, threats, agendas, unsolicited advice, or snide comments. But thou shalt say, “Welcome! How can we help you? We love you! We would like to increase our giving significantly. We’re praying for you and your family. Welcome to our community! We baked you some cookies!” And each week, thou shalt do so again and again until the new pastor begs you to stop.
VIII. Thou shalt increase thy giving, and not withhold thy tithe, but invest thy money and thine heart in the future of thy community of faith and mission.
IX. Thou shalt not come to thine old and former pastor with anything but praise for the new pastor, but thou mayest bring thy concerns to God in humble prayer.
X. Most important, thou shalt trust God, and stay connected to God, and draw strength from God, staying deeply rooted in the message of God’s grace. For God is good, and God will never leave you nor forsake you. You can count on that for sure!