In my denomination, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a local church does not employ and pay the salary of a pastor. A pastor is employed by the local conference, which is like an association of all the churches in a particular region (state, part of a state, etc).
As of this coming January, I’ll have been pastoring for four years since I graduated from seminary.
Ok, now that I’ve given that background, let me share what happened.
I got the call this past week from one of my leaders that they’re transferring me from one of my churches. So for the first time since starting in my original two churches almost four years ago, I’ll all of a sudden be the new guy on the block again, which has caused me quite a bit of reflection.
Specifically, I’ve been wondering how I can start well in this new church.
I know when I started in my original two churches, I clearly had an agenda. I did my undergrad in theology, and I had just graduated with my M.Div (the standard seminary degree). I could parse Greek words like a kung-fu master could fly through the air. I was full of excitement, fresh ideas, and convinced that I knew exactly what to do to grow a church to thousands in attendance. And I was pretty sure that I could do 90% of that growth just by preaching really well and having some decent music.
My main goal was to get them to join my story. My agenda. I knew how to grow the churches, and my job was to convince them to see the genius of these ideas. After all, I read a lot of books, and the experts say this and that, so this is what we have to do.
Let’s just say that I still have just as much excitement, but a lot more humility.
But here’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in beginning in a new church: I believe my job is to first join their story.
These are people that have been there much longer than I have. And they have dreams for their church, many of them possibly unfulfilled; dreams of reaching a certain number of people, of planting other churches, of being truly incarnational and making a difference in their community.
So what’s my big master plan? I plan to do a lot of listening and asking them to share about their dreams. Because I believe they probably dream in color just as I do. If we can do that, I think the hardest part will be taken care of.
I seek your prayers. And I sincerely solicit your feedback and what you’d recommend as I start.
So what do you think? What do you think are the most important things a leader should do at the beginning of a new job? Please share.
[image by Rick-MN]