Every year for the last eight years we have been holding a Church Planting and Revitalization Breakfast at the Virginia Annual Conference. It is by far the best meal at Annual Conference. I am excited about this year’s breakfast and we are working hard to line up some great speakers. Here is the official announcement.
The Church Planting and Revitalization Breakfast will be held Saturday June 22nd 7AM at First UMC of Fox Hill. The cost for the breakfast is $13.
The Church Planting and Revitalization Breakfast is an event held at Annual Conference and sponsored by the Church Development Team. The breakfast is held to celebrate the ministry of church planting and revitalization across the Virginia Conference. A series of speakers will give brief presentations about works they are currently engaged in through either planting or revitalizing churches. The breakfast is open to all clergy and laity and children are welcome. If you want to be inspired by how Christ is working in the Virginia Conference as we seek to begin and revitalize new faith communities then this breakfast is for you.
To register and make payment online please visit http://bit.ly/10KtmAp and click continue near the bottom of the page to complete your registration.
Starting off on the right foot in a new appointment is so important for a great transition. Whether we like it or not, as new pastors coming to a new church we are under watchful eyes. Everything we do or don’t do that first time will set a precedent.
Photo Courtesy of IStockPhoto marekuliasz
Here are four Must Dos in the first 90 days to ensure a great beginning to your ministry.
1st Must Do
Clarify expectations. It will be so important to sit down with the Staff Parish Relations Committee to begin to understand the expectations of the church. Are you to hold regular office hours? Do they expect you lead a Bible study? You get the picture. It works the other way as well. Be clear about your own boundaries and expectations whether it be about time off or how your family will participate in the life of the church.
2nd Must Do
Build momentum. This is where you need to get an early win. Most churches have a built in early win for the summer and it is called Vacation Bible School. Or, perhaps you provide leadership for organizing filling backpacks with school supplies for the local elementary school or help the church to hold its first ever end of summer picnic. Find a way to build momentum and share a sense of accomplishment and victory with your new congregation.
3rd Must Do
Establish relationships. As an old friend who was a DS used to tell all his pastors “visit, visit, visit!” Now is the time to begin to build relationships whether those visits take place in the parking lot, on the front porch of a parishioner’s house, or in the stands of a Little League game. Learn your people’s stories. Learn the church’s stories. Learn your community’s story. Have a couple of questions you always lead off with such as “What is your hope and dream for our church?” or “How did you start coming to the church?” Then be quiet and listen.
4th Must Do
Preach well. While all your messages are important your first one will be the one people talk about most. Now is not the time to pull one off of SermonCentral.Com. Wrestle with the text and discern God’s word for the people. Put in the time for this important event in your transition.
By carrying out these four “Must Dos” you will avoid the cost of a bad start and hit the ground running.
“It’s the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: ‘Good-bye.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard
With all the attention paid to transitioning well it is necessary to remember the children of pastors during the time of transition. This is the responsibility of the pastor and spouse as well as the sending and receiving church.
Photo courtesy of IStockPhoto © Catherine Yeulet
Here are some ways pastors can help their children transition in a healthy way:
- Pastors do well to explain to their children that moving is a normal part of family life for a United Methodist pastor. It is important to speak well of the church and community to which you are being sent and to show some level of excitement. Children, as we know, take their cues from adults.
- Make the children part of the transition process and include them in a goodbye reception and allow them the opportunity to say goodbye and grieve as they need to when moving.
- Listen to their concerns both explicit and non-explicit and seek to allay those concerns. Don’t be dismissive.
- Go on an advance scouting expedition to the community to which you are being appointed. Drive by the church and the parsonage so the kids can see. Drive around the community to do a windshield survey and point out parks, other fun things for kids to do, and their school. If possible, get a tour of their new school.
- While there exploring your new community find something fun to do together as a family- go for ice cream, go bowling, go to the movie, or anything else. Demonstrate to your child that there is stuff to do in the community. Every community has something to do.
- Be helpful and encourage your child to get involved and to make new friends but don’t force. Read their cues both verbal and non-verbal and know when to encourage and when to step back.
Receiving churches can also help children of any age to have a healthy transition.
- By all means acknowledge and speak to and get to know the children of the pastor showing genuine interest in them.
- Be intentional about introducing them to other children of similar ages and interest. Perhaps identify another child from the church ahead of time who will make an effort to befriend the new kid.
- Instead of or in addition to just bringing a plant or a casserole to the new parsonage family bring an inexpensive toy or a special batch of cookies made especially for the child(ren).
- Be sure to connect parents in the church with the clergy family to tell them about scouting groups, dance schools, parks and rec leagues, fun places for kids to go, and school choices.
As I have talked over the years with adults who were once children of pastors I realize the church and clergy have come a long way in helping children make these transition in healthy ways. May it continue to be so and may we even get better at it.
What ways have you experienced as effective in helping children make these healthy transitions?
It is important not only for a clergy person to say goodbye well, it is also important for the church they are leaving to say so long, farewell, goodbye well.
When a church is able to say goodbye to their pastor well it sets that pastor up for vital future ministry in his or her next appointment and prepares the church well to welcome their new pastor knowing they have had closure with their old pastor. I have been fortunate that in each of the churches I have left the church said goodbye well. This makes all the difference.
Here are some ideas for churches to say goodbye well…
- Show appropriate appreciation. This is the time to thank your pastor and his or her family for what they have done. It is time to celebrate your common ministry. This can be done through a reception, a special liturgy during worship, the sharing of memories or a slideshow celebrating the common ministry. These things can be as simple or elaborate as the church wants to make them.
- Give cards. Despite everyone’s best intentions not everyone will be able to have the opportunity to convey to the outgoing pastor their personal appreciation for their ministry. Even if they do have the opportunity there may not be time to say it all and some people have trouble saying it at all. However, they may be able to write it. Consider putting a box for cards and well wishes out for the departing pastor. These cards can be treasured by the pastor for years to come.
- Help you pastor prepare for their successor. If you read through the Virginia Conference’s Pastoral Transition Guidelines booklet you will see there is a lot of stuff. Perhaps the SPRC or administrative staff can help take some of the burden of preparation off the outgoing pastor. Sure, there will be things the pastor just has to do on their own, but there are certainly things like gathering past worship bulletins or newsletters with which anyone might help.
- Maybe most importantly, offer your outgoing pastor a healthy dose of mercy, grace and forgiveness. Clergy are fallible human beings and sometimes we make mistakes by what we do and by what we leave undone. Summon your best to offer mercy, grace and forgiveness. This is especially necessary in an appointment that has not been a good match.
Change is never easy. Mark Twain once said the only one who likes change is a wet baby! Saying goodbye well by clergy and laity can lead to a healthy separation and the promise of a new beginning for all parties.
What are some ways you have experienced or heard of churches saying goodbye well?
It is that wonderful time of the year in the United Methodist Church when some pastors prepare to move and must say good bye to the congregations they have served. As I leave Regester Chapel to begin the ChurchIngenuity.Com ministry I too am seeking to leave well.
It is incumbent upon us as pastors to leave well from the places we have served. This not only brings closure to our ministry in a particular place but it allows for a healthy transition that sets up our successor for vital ministry. Here are five ways pastors can say good bye well.
- Put the church and the next pastor in a position to succeed. Do your transition work well. While there will always be a certain amount of adjustment and getting to know one another between the new pastor and the church it is necessary for the outgoing pastor to provide necessary information such the names of key leadership, upcoming calendar dates, church traditions, etc. The Virginia Conference has provided a great resource for this that I am using now and have used in the past. Access the Pastoral Transition Guidelines here.
- Don’t succumb to lame duck status. This is not the spring of our senior year of high school. We must seek ways to continue momentum. Plan an event (Stop Hunger Now), hold a church-wide Bible study, do a message series that addresses God’s faithfulness in times of uncertainty. Whatever you do, don’t cash it in early.
- Find every excuse you can to celebrate your ministry together. Even if you are leaving against your will or the match has not been a good one, your ministry has touched someone. Your ministry together has made a difference in some way. Focus on these positives from the pulpit, in committee meetings and in individual conversations. Make sure someone is planning a reception so you can celebrate your ministry together. Put together a slideshow to show on Sunday morning to celebrate your ministry. This will encourage and reassure your congregation.
- Always sing the praise of your successor. Even if you do not know the person who is following, you can at the very least be confident that they have been judged to be worthy and capable to proclaim the word and administer the sacraments. Find every way you can within limits to talk up your successor as a faithful, competent, and committed pastor.
- Be professional. Make clear to your congregation you will no longer be their pastor and you will be allowing their new pastor to fill that role you have played for them in these last years. Make sure you leave a clean office and parsonage. Your successor will remember these things and tell others. Give your successor permission to call with questions.
How we leave a place says a lot about us. For the health and well being of all involved it is important to be strategic about leaving well.
What are other ways to leave well you have practiced?