Pastors are shepherds. They guide, feed and look after the people under their watchful care (That’s us). Can you think of a time when a pastor engaged your life personally to offer wisdom for the course ahead, discernment through confusing seasons, or loving kindness for your hurting heart? Do you recall the times a pastor communicated God’s Word to you so clearly and relevantly to your situation? A pastor is someone whom God is using to extend His grace and love on you!
I’m not so sure we realize the burdens pastors carry. Life within a church body is messy and stressful. Most pastors are go-getters and plug along to shepherd courageously with a positive attitude and formative perspective. They work hard to study God’s Word and communicate it well, sometimes under criticism. Frankly, it’s a tough job. Yet they press on to be a shepherd over their flock.
We, the PNC, think it is time to begin an honest conversation about how this transition can be a momentum-builder for the church and a new opportunity to live in to God’s vision for us as a church. Change can be painful, but it can also bring about amazing transformation.
So, I want to share a few things that any congregation should keep in mind when receiving a new pastor.
- Remember our new pastor is grieving the loss of a whole congregation he/she cared about.
- Understand that the new pastor does not yet know our traditions, or our values, neither do we know our new pastor’s ways of being and doing. We might do things differently than he/she is used to. They will do things differently than we are used to. Let us keep that in mind, extend grace to one another, be open to new things and communicate as honestly, effectively and clearly as we can.
- Try to find out who they really are before placing all of our expectations of who we think/feel they should be.
- There is a lot to learn in a short amount of time, our new pastor will not have answers to all of our questions. Please be patient and help them to learn more about the Church and community.
- It may take a while to learn everyone’s name. Please begin a conversations by reminding them of your name even after you feel they should know it.
- That container of cookies you brought for the family, dinner, to ease the burden of unpacking, cards of welcome, or just stopping by to say hi and welcome means so much-more than you will ever know!
- Please do not assume the pastor knows about regular events in the church or in the community, or who is in the hospital. Share this information with them!
- Keep your heart open.