You and your S/PPRC in the first six months
This committee can be of such great assistance to a new pastor! I suggest that the committee meet at least four times in the first six months. Meeting regularly will allow members to get to know each other and to build trust – two vital elements when working and serving together. One of these meetings could be an informal picnic or ice cream social where family members get to meet and form closer connections.
In the first six months, the committee can help you by sharing information and perspective on things like: Heritage.
Discuss questions such as:
- What is in the DNA of church? Did it start as a rural family church, or blue collar or other?
- Have several missionaries been sent from here?
- Is it a bridging church for ecumenical ministry in the community?
- Does it have a history of strong youth ministry?
- Have revivals helped the church grow?
This could include drawing a life chart
together in order to identify when the church’s best and worst times occurred. Members could use this as a visual to discuss why times were better or worse and what happened to bring change?
Community history, important community events, and the pastor’s role in them.
Examples of contextual information provided:
What has been the involvement of former pastors’ families in church?
- “Please try to be here for 4th of July festival because we have a combined worship service and want to introduce you.”
- “We hope that you will be a leader in efforts to stem teenage suicide in our community as the rates are high here.”
- “Pastor always brings candy canes for the Children’s Christmas party” (oh, yes, I got caught not asking about this one in my first parish!!!)
Strongest hopes of the church, values that the church focuses on, and vision that they believe God is leading them in:
- This can lead to healthy conversation about how only the pastor is employed by church. Other family members need to be free to choose their own ways of being involved.
- The committee can also share helpful information about interests of family members, including possible employment connections for the pastor’s spouse (if desired).
Work/Life Balance helpers:
- Outreach to new members and guests
- Who are their most recent guests and members?
- Who are they doing the best job of reaching out to?
Your Communication preferences:
- What you think their/your usual work week might look like (i.e., when do you take Sabbath?)
- How you are trying to care for their/your family?
- How you take care of your spiritual and physical health, how you relax, your hobbies?
- How the committee can help and be of assistance to you as a support and accountability team?
- Your favorite means of communication -- phone, email, text, conversation
- How you best receive constructive criticism and suggestions
You can share some of this in written form (an intro letter to be shared with others as appropriate), have an open question session at one of your meetings, and just have intentional conversation, often.
It can be very helpful to set just a few priorities (3-5) in your time with the committee (like getting to know community by attending (insert specific event or events), asking them to introduce you to specific folks in town, visiting shut-ins with a parishioner, meeting youth, getting to know leaders in church, sermon preparation, helping Sunday School get organized, lead in setting up a mission experience, etc.)
If priorities have been discussed and worked on together, this makes the annual report much easier and helpful to do.
(Rev. Cynthia Jones is a retired IGRC pastor and former district superintendent. This article is contributed by Pastoral Care and Counseling. For confidential help, you can reach our PCC Coordinator, Shauna Summers, at email@example.com or 303.241.4389. For confidential, professional help in your area 24 hours, 365 days a year you can reach the Clergy Assistance Program at 1.800.433.7916).