It’s been nearly two years since Sabine and I moved church. We moved because I was given a job as Assistant Pastor in a different church in Edinburgh. Even though we weren’t moving city, we were still nervous about how we would manage changing church.
Those nerves were put to rest because of the loving welcome that we received into our new church family. We were invited for meals, for coffees, people made an effort to speak to us and they didn’t mind when we kept forgetting names.
That whole process showed me just how a church’s welcome can influence the way you begin a new ministry role.
Starting a new ministry position isn’t the easiest thing. You need to learn new names, get to know the history of the church, settle into a new team and get to grips with ministries that you’re responsible for.
All of this is quite difficult even if you’ve done it a few times. It is time consuming and it can be draining both physically and spiritually. Therefore, if your church is welcoming a new member of staff or if new people show up on a Sunday, look out for and care for the new guy.
I think that we underestimate just how important a warm welcome is in church. People are more likely to come back if they receive a warm welcome. If people are greeted with genuine interest in them as individuals and if people remember their names if they come again, they feel welcomed into a family.
One of the best ways to open up a deeper conversation with new comers or visitors is simply to ask “how can I be praying for you this week?” Some will find it weird, but some will open up and feel cared for. But if you do that remember to pray for them!
How can you best welcome and care for a new staff member of pastor starting at your church?
Pray – pray for whoever the Lord puts in your church. If the person is a new staff member then there has been a time of interviews and questions. The person will probably know some of the church leadership well, but not necessarily the congregation. Pray that in the first few weeks and months that they wouldn’t be overwhelmed, but that they’d feel welcomed, appreciated and loved by the church.
Invite – invite them around for dinner, get to know them because they want to get to know you. Invite the whole family around and if they have kids take an interest in them! Ministry can put a lot of strain on the whole family so every church should care for the well-being of the whole family. If they’ve moved to a new town they might not know anybody, having them over for a meal will make them feel that little bit more settled. Plus, everyone loves a lovely home cooked meal!
Explain – explain about who you are as an individual, as a family and as a church. Explain how you’ve experienced the church grow over the years (in all areas). Explain the background of the church and the things that you’ve been challenged by and encouraged by. Do not use this time to ‘figure the new guy out’ or to get all of your frustrations of your chest. But use the time to help the new guy learn, settle in and look forward to taking part in leading the church.
Be patient – things won’t necessarily change right away! It takes time for people to decide how to best develop a ministry, or for a new leadership to think how best to move the church forward. It takes time for names to be remembered and for a family to get into a new routine. Be patient, always be willing to help and care for the new guy and his family. In all of your patience with him continue to encourage him and build him up.
God wonderfully took me to a congregation that did all of these things and they are an absolute joy to serve! We should always be aware of how much work Pastors and church staff put into the life of a church. We should always bring them before the Lord in prayer and be thankful for their service.
This all starts with a warm welcome!