Content is written by Rev. Micah James, CCA
We posted an article entitled “When you welcome a new leader…” a while back and the conversation that followed was fruitful. One of the comments inquired on the other side of the welcoming equation… How does a pastor or leader open themselves up to connect to a new community? This article is our follow-up to that question.
- Take chances – With each new call, we come with previous knowledge and previous solutions. With new opportunities in ministry comes the opportunity to take chances to test new strategies, try new problem-solving solutions, and the chance to be creative in this new space with your new community. Take the chance to do some new in your new place.
- You’ve heard some things, now learn some things – As pastors transition from one congregation or ministry, the community that is interviewing them usually shares strategic information with the pastor. Some congregations are more open and honest with the candidate than others, so be aware of this as you go into your community. You have heard some things, now with those piece of information in mind go learn some things about your community first hand.
- Begin healthy rhythms now – As you begin this new journey, many people will pull you to commit to this and that in the first few months. You will be tempted to say yes to this group, or that organization, or that choir, etc. Don’t. Invest your time getting to know the people, not joining groups. Setting boundaries of how many meetings, hours, and how you will manage self-care is an important part of a good start. Start those healthy boundaries now, because it will be so much harder to open those doors to healthy rhythms later.
- Use your search committee – The search committee, if done correctly, can be your greatest asset. As engaged members of a church community, they already know where the pitfalls and potholes are and how to avoid them. They know who needs the most immediate pastoral care and how you can provide it. They know where the best restaurants in town would be and where the good deals are. Utilize them. As you finish the hiring process, you can even ask that your search committee, or a few members of it, morph into the first iteration of a Pastoral Relations Committee or something like it. It is important to build these support systems as you go in so that you are not isolated in your efforts to get to know your new community.
- Don’t go too fast – And always remember, it will take time. It will take lots of time. Some studies show it takes two years before someone will really trust someone else (1). So be patient with yourself and with your congregation. It will take time.
Blessings on your journey.