Excerpts from a UMC.org Feature by Joe Iovino*
Here are some hints for churches and their members who are expecting a change:
Saying goodbye to your current pastor may be emotionally challenging, but it is a significant first step in the transition process.
The first thing you can do is to pray for your current pastor, the new pastor, and your congregation. Surrender your anxiety and trust God to work through the process.
Lend a hand.
Soon after the District Superintendent announces that your pastor is leaving, look for ways to be helpful. Your pastor and his/her family will need boxes for the move and might like help packing, taking apart bed frames, or loading the U-Haul. Ask where you might be helpful.
Give an appropriate gift.
It may be as simple as a gift card that will help with moving and travel expenses or a picture of a time you shared together.
Attend the farewell.
Take time to celebrate this season of pastoral leadership as it ends. Eat, laugh, cry, celebrate, and tell stories with your congregation. Don’t miss out on this important time.
Say a personal goodbye.
“For me, as a pastor,” Kaylor said, “one of the things I really have appreciated was when people took the time to sit down and write a note, expressing their appreciation for that time in ministry together.” He continued, “I keep those with me as I move to the new place… There’s no greater gift than that."
Go to church that first Sunday.
Invest in the continued success of your congregation by supporting your new pastor from the very start.
Give a good gift.
Welcome your pastor not only to your congregation but also to your town. A gift card to your favorite business, restaurant, or local home improvement store will be welcome, and helps the pastor and family get to know your community.
Pastors and their families have a lot to do when they first arrive—unpacking boxes, getting the kids signed up for school, finding a new doctor, and so much more. This might not be the best time to drop by the office or parsonage.
Take the initiative.
Attend a meet-and-greet, join the pastor’s Bible study, or invite her/him to coffee. "Make the effort to get to know the pastor,” Kaylor said, “because he or she is not going to have time to invest in every single parishioner—particularly in a large church—in the way that they would like to. So take the initiative to go be with the pastor… That's really, really critical."
Resist quick judgements.
Stressed, tired, nervous, uncertain, worried—your new pastor is feeling all of this and more. Look “beyond first impressions because sometimes that first impression can be difficult,” Kaylor said. “Extending grace…is absolutely critical, and saying we're going to give this time and we're going to really invest in getting to know this pastor and so learn how we can be in ministry together."
Expect the best.
Things are changing. This is a new season in ministry. “Ask yourself as a congregation member,” Kaylor said, “What gifts do I have
that I can invest in the success of this new season of ministry?”
Read the entire article and take a look at other media at: We’re getting a new pastor! What can I do?
*Joe Iovino works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-312-3733.