Congregations are often perplexed when their Pastor leaves and a new one arrives after what can often be a time consuming calling process. This is an important time for our church to deal with the transition and emotions that occur during a change in Pastors. Here are a few suggestions to help us make the transition a fantastic success.
Accept the decision of the Voters Assembly and give the new Pastor a chance. Offer prayer and support for Pastor as he adjusts to our church and our community.
Until Pastor can call you by name, always remind him by saying, “Hi, my name is…”. All of us know his name and face. It will take a while for our new Pastor to remember the entire congregation by name and face.
Welcome the Pastor’s family. They don’t know anyone here. They may not have a doctor yet, or mechanic, baby-sitter, drycleaners, etc.. Offer suggestions.
Give him a chance to be who he is. He will not be like any of the previous pastors. His speaking style will be different. His mannerisms and communication style will be different.
Remember that all Pastors are human. They will make mistakes. They will experience some anxiety about meeting congregational expectations. Also, remember a move is extremely stressful on a family.
Love and support Pastor and his family as you have loved and supported the Pastors before him.
Pray for the Pastor often and for his work as he leads our congregation.
Always be ready to offer him encouragement. A timely note, a phone call, a pat on the back means a lot.
Help him meet people and make inroads into the community. Invite him out to lunch.
Show him every act of kindness you can, for he has chosen to work with a great group of God’s people. Make him feel appreciated, loved and supported as he leads us in worship and helps us to lead our lives in Christ.
Let each of us assume the responsibility of helping Pastor lead the church to great things in the coming years. Do not assume the church will continue to grow just because we have a new pastor. Growth will continue when each member of our congregation takes ownership and feels personally responsible.
We must forget ourselves and focus on others, making the needed changes–however painful they might be–so that those who are not members can see just how much we are willing to share “not only the gospel, but our lives as well…” (I Thessalonians 2:8). When we do, this church will grow. Let’s roll up our sleeves, pray for God’s wisdom and strength, and grow together with our new pastor.
Adapted from Keith Ellis’, Love Notes.