When you welcome a new leader…

Content is written by Rev. Micah James, CCA

In recent days, the denomination I claim as home, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has welcomed a new General Minister and President. Whenever any community welcomes a new leader, I think there are some basic things we forget to do…

  1. Take a deep breath – As human beings, we are all change averse. So please, take a deep breath. Even positive changes bring with it a variety of uncertainty, anxiety, and change. Make sure that you are entering into this new space with a clear head and an open heart.
  2. Pray for them – Chances are the new leader has a bit of apprehension herself, so surround her in prayer. Pray for patience as they learn a new role. Pray for wisdom as they begin to guide your community. Pray for balance as they learn how to manage a new schedule. Pray for joy as they fall in love with the church in a new way. Pray for connectedness as ministry is a lonely role. Pray for their family as they adjust to this new way of life. Pray for the church as everyone learns to work together in a new way.
  3. Write things down – Churches can be the worst for operating on oral tradition, so for the benefit of your new leader write down as many of those “unwritten rules” as you can. The more information you can have written down for reference, the more your new leader will feel empowered to know what is really happening in your community when it comes to the expectations, culture, and “politics”.
  4. Talk to them, not about them – One of the worse things we can do to our new leaders is talk about them, not to them. If you have a question about a decision or want to know more about something they are working on, go ask them. Parking lot meetings or side conversations can quickly build anxiety and undermine the trust that a new leader is trying to build. So do everyone a favor and talk to each other instead of about each other.
  5. Get to know them – The first weeks and months of a new leaders position can be the loneliest. Invite them to dinner. Pop by their office and say hi. Get to know their family. Many pastors report feeling lonely and isolated in their role as pastor. Church, we can do better. Let’s get to know our leaders.

I am excited to welcome our new General Minister and President to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and I am going to follow my own advice in the next few weeks.

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