Your congregation has just hired a minister, and it seems like they are the perfect fit. Congratulations! There is one more step to the process, though, and it is just as important as the process of finding the right minister. You might have heard people refer to how the “first hundred days” of someone’s job usually sets the tone for their entire career with that organization. The same is true with ministers. Just as your congregation is going through a major transition, so is your new minister. The first few months of a job are a stressful time, and it is the job of the elders and search committee to help your new minister through their transition.
We refer to this as the “On-Boarding Stage.” Since the “first hundred days” is so important to the rest of a minister’s career with your congregation, we believe this stage is one of the keys to reducing minister turnover in the church. In this post, we want to talk about a few of the things that a new minister needs from their congregation during this transition period. We will refer to them as the ABC’s of the On-Boarding Phase.
Packing up everything and moving to a new town means your new minister has quite a bit of work to do, from finding a new home to unpacking their belongings. It can be hard for the minister to be completely focused on their new job when they are preoccupied with the task of relocating. Have people in the congregation pitch in and help with all these things. See if one of the members has a place where the minister and their family can stay temporarily while trying to find a new home. On the minister’s first day in the office, help them set up their belongings, clean the office, and make sure someone is there to offer technical assistance throughout the day.
The minister may not be very familiar with the town, so it may be good to give them and their family a tour. Help them find good banks, restaurants, and doctors. If they have children, help them find schools as well as sports clubs and other activities the children could be involved in. The minister’s spouse may also need a job, so make sure members of the congregation are on the lookout for job opportunities if that is the case. These small acts of kindness can go a long way with your new minister.
More than anything, your minister and their family want to know that their presence is welcomed in your congregation. Make sure they are included in congregational events. Invite their family to dinner. Find out what kinds of things they and their family members enjoy and offer to do those things with them, whether that be playing a game of golf on the weekend, going on a shopping trip, or going on a run. Introduce their children to other children in the congregation of their age. Make sure your congregation is a place where your minister and their family feel at home.
Make it as easy as possible for your minister to form relationships within the church and the community. If one is available, give them a picture directory so they can start placing faces with names. Make sure they are introduced to all elders, deacons, and ministry leaders and that they know who to contact for any specific need. If a member of your congregation is very active in the community, have them bring the new minister to events and meetings so that they can meet other leaders within the community. If there are other churches of Christ in the area, have a well-connected elder or minister take the new minister to meet the elders and ministers in those congregations. The more connected a minister is, the easier it will be for them to know what is needed in the congregation and the community and to coordinate events with their new congregations and others in the area.
The needs of a new minister are really not that much different than those of any newcomer to your congregation. The goal is really just to be as helpful to them as possible and to make them feel at home. A minister is much less likely to leave your congregation if they feel it is not only a work, but a blessing, to be a part of your congregation.
Matthew 7:12 – “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them...” (ESV)