Friday, July 22, 2016

The first 100 days as a new pastor

Once when I was being considered for a new position I spent some time thinking what I would do in the first 100 days if I was offered the position. I wasn't, but it was still an excellent process that I went through. I had actually identified a full page of things I would do during that first 100 days that I felt would get me off to a good start.

Years ago pastors were told to do nothing that first year. Enjoy the honeymoon and get to know the people. That's still good a point. It is critical that a new leader spends time getting to know the people, but that first year should not be a time when the pastor does nothing. One of the things a new pastor should do, if the church has not already done so, is to lead the church through a vision discernment process. This will accomplish at least two things.

One, you'll get to know the church as they work through vision discernment. The process I use to lead churches seeking a fresh vision is to first help them identify the core values and bedrock beliefs they share as a congregation. That not only gets them talking about these things, often for the first time in many years, it helps the new pastor better understand the church.

This will also help the new pastor begin to identify the steps the church needs to take to achieve this vision. As these steps are identified the pastor better understands how he or she needs to prioritize his or her time and how to lead the church.

The first 100 days is also the time for the pastor to establish personal boundaries and to teach the church those boundaries. The temptation for a new pastor is to try to do it all when we first start at a new church, but this only sets up unrealistic expectations for the congregation. As Dr. Phil says, we teach people how to treat us. If we begin by teaching the congregation that we will do it all, five years later they will still be allowing us to do it all.

We need to be talking with church leadership about the things we can do and those things we expect others to do. Before I entered the ministry our church called a new pastor. In our first deacon meeting he asked for our expectations of him, and then he shared his expectations of us. It was an excellent discussion that laid the foundation for his ministry in that church. Each of us needs to have that conversation with our lay leaders when we begin a new ministry.

It is always exciting to begin a new ministry, but it's critical that the new ministry gets started right. How we handle that first 100 days will play a large part on how effective our ministries will be.

If you about to begin a new ministry you may want to read The First 100 Days: A Pastor's Guide by T. Scott Daniels. It can also be a good resource for someone wanting to re-start his or her ministry in a current church. Sometimes we can start over.

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