New or interim pastor? How to help incoming leadership get to know the congregation
Matthew 25:35 "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me."
Saying goodbye to a beloved pastor can be difficult for a church congregation. However, change can breathe new life into a church and it's always important to welcome your new or interim pastor with open arms. It's certainly an exciting time for everyone!
Just as the congregation is adjusting, so too is your new leader. Suddenly they are faced with remembering all the nuances of the church administration while making a great first impression through meaningful sermons and other outreach efforts. On top of all this, they need to learn the names of all the new faces.
There are several positive and proactive things you can do to ease the transition for the new pastor and help them get to know the congregation they'll be leading.
Utilize name tags
A simple but appreciated gesture is to ask all church attendees to wear name tags the first few weekends at services. You can set up a simple name tag station with markers and sticky name tags at the entrance of the church. This helps the pastor connect names to faces and serves a sa simple reference in the flurry of those first weeks.
Provide church directories
Your Lifetouch church directory is a wonderful resource for new leaders who can easily look up different families, groups and administration personnel to learn names alongside their pictures. Recommend the new pastor load the mobile directory onto their phone or tablet so they have a digital version of the directory as well. This is a resource they'll look to time and time again.
Host a welcome gathering
There's no better way to welcome a new pastor and help them get to know the congregation than by having a welcome party with food and fun. It could be a pizza night, a potluck or a meal hosted by the welcome committee. Extend the invitation to the entire church and start planning a joyous gathering. You may even consider providing meaningful gifts to the new pastor to help them settle in. For example, gift cards to local restaurants and home improvement stores.
Extend invitations to small groups
Your church is a vibrant community and likely there are various committees and small groups that meet regularly. Invite the new pastor to visit these groups to understand more about their focus and goals while also getting to know the participants better. Additionally, it is beneficial to invite them to youth ministry activities to get to know the younger generations of the church.
Remember, when welcoming a new pastor to provide patience and space. It's a big transition for everyone and your efforts to help them get to know the congregation are sure to be appreciated.