By Ron Blankenship, Montgomery Association Director of Missions
Ron Blankenship, Montgomery Association Director of Missions, regularly shares this information with churches preparing to welcome a new pastor. Some of the information is adapted from material by Mike Clingenpeel, pastor of River Road Baptist Church, Richmond, Va.
When welcoming a new pastor to your church here are some hands-on ways you can truly sup-port the man who will be leading your church. He and his family will appreciate your efforts.
• Repeat your name to your new pastor and family until he knows who you are. Remember, you just have to remember his name and the names of his family members. There are a lot more of you he has to try to remember in addition to new friends outside the church. Name tags, even if temporary, could be helpful.
• Do not expect him to remember everything you tell him. Once again, he has a lot of people sharing a lot of information.
• Include him and his family in your events, but realize they are busy and can’t be in three places at one time. They want to feel welcome and appreciate your invitations, but keep in mind that they have made a major transition in their lives. They’re more than likely in a new community, have to set up their new home and they’re getting adjusted. Your new pastor and his family will be very busy.
• Let him have his own style. Your new pastor is coming from a unique background and will have a unique style in both his personally and in his ministry.
• Allow him to set his own priorities. You are trusting him to lead your church under the authority of Jesus Christ. Trust him to discern what Jesus wants your church to prioritize.
• Be understanding as he goes through his own grief of leaving a ministry and entering a new one. Your pastor and his family have just left a church family, and possibly their own individual families. They’re starting over. There is a grief process involved.
• Show up. Encourage him by physically being at church events and by being faithful in ministry commitments.
• When you have a complaint, tell the pastor directly.
• If, in six months, you don’t like the new pastor for whatever reasons, quietly leave.
• Make the following assumptions about your pastor: He wants to see you and please you, but above all, he wants to follow God. He is a human being with human limits and needs. He needs time to settle in and get his bearings straight. He longs to cooperate with you and God to see people grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ. He is praying for you daily. Do not forget to pray regularly for him.