FRESH IDEAS: Awaiting the new pastor

PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP) -- The entire church is waiting expectantly. When your church is in transition -- seeking a new pastor or other ministry staff member -- there are a few things any member can do:

Help church leaders

-- In any size church, the added workload on ministry staff members, volunteer staff, office assistants and other church leaders is very heavy during transition. Pray for God to give them wisdom and strength.

-- Watch for ways to help and encourage them. Stop by the office and pray with them. If you see a need, do your best to help meet it. Volunteer readily. Consider doing something tangible to thank them. One church sent their associate minister and his wife on a weeklong cruise to express appreciation for extra efforts during transition time.

Encourage the pastor search team

-- Show great support for the search team, but don't slow their progress by probing for information. They are very aware of the urgency and gravity of their assignment and will provide periodic updates to the entire church.

-- Consider ways you can personally help individual team members when they meet or travel. Babysit. Mow their lawn. Help as a substitute for their regular church responsibility. Provide snacks for their extended meetings or travel.

-- Appreciate their sacrifice. Many search teams meet weekly and spend additional hours doing research. As they work diligently, say thank you.

-- Most importantly, pray faithfully for the team. Tape a note to your computer screen or car visor to remind you to pray. Mail an occasional prayer note to them.

Prepare

-- Be positive. Your personal attitude helps set the pace for a successful transition period. Every word you speak about your church and pastor search team must be positive.

-- Pray for your church's future leader, even before God calls him. God already knows. Prepare yourself to accept and support him.

-- Remember that Christ is still in complete control of His church. You can trust Him to direct the search and to know what your church needs in this season. Your church bylaws describe the process for selecting a pastor.

-- If the search is for a support ministry staff member, it may be your pastor's responsibility to find that person. If so, use these same ideas to help him as he carries an extra load.

Get busy about God's work

-- Personally demonstrate faithfulness. This is not a time to relinquish church responsibilities or slack off in tithing or attendance. Your commitment is to God, not to a pastor.

-- Some churches grow during a transition time! Invite friends. Share your faith often. (Try NAMB's free phone app, Life Conversations Guide.) Plan the largest, most evangelistic Vacation Bible School ever. Grow your small group. Your future pastor will be impressed.

-- Every member of the body of Christ, working together, is God's plan for His church. God's call on your life and your church isn't on hold. If you've become complacent, find a place of service.

-- Be patient. Avoid initiating major changes. Wait for your new pastor's leadership and guidance.

Spruce it up

-- Take a fresh look at church facilities. Plan some aggressive workdays during this interim period. Update paint and landscape. Make needed repairs. Clean meticulously. Purge every closet and office and room. De-clutter relentlessly. Dispose of outdated decor and furniture. A well-kept, updated building reflects a church's love for God and will make a good first impression for a potential pastor.

-- Perk up the pastor's office. Make a plan for intense cleaning and updates to provide a professional, appealing workspace for God's chosen leader for your church. Provide a generous budget and a professional decorator to consult with the new pastor to update colors, furniture and technical equipment.

Transition can be terrifying. And exhilarating. Isn't it great to know that God cares about His church even more than you do?

"And He personally gave some to be…pastors…" Ephesians 4:11


Diana Davis, on the Web at www.dianadavis.org, is an author, columnist and ministry wife in Pensacola Fla. She is the author of "Fresh Ideas" and "Deacon Wives" (B&H Publishing); her newest book, "Six Simple Steps - Finding Contentment and Joy as a Ministry Wife," releases next spring.

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