Installation budgeting

When a church calls a new clergyperson, formally marking the new partnership is essential. In many denominations an installation worship service is the primary means for doing so. Installations typically take place after the new pastor has been in place for 1-3 months. This delay gives the minister (at least some) time to get acclimated and to meet people in the congregation, judicatory, and surrounding community that would be good to involve in the planning and leadership of the installation service. It also allows the pastor to invite family, friends, and mentors who need advance notice in order to travel.

An installation service is a celebration. A new season in the lives of the minister and congregation has begun. Installing a leader gives church members and the pastor the opportunity to express gratitude to God for accompanying them through the transition time and for bringing them together for mutual ministry. An installation service is a time of covenanting. During the service the clergyperson and the congregation make promises about the ways they will journey alongside one another on mission for God. And an installation service connects church and minister with a broader community. Often a judicatory or denominational representative, clergy colleagues, leaders from community organizations, and/or someone from the pastor's seminary will participate in some fashion.

For all of these reasons, installations promote positivity and connection that can lead to momentum for the congregation and minister. Often, though, churches and search teams do not think to budget for this worship service. Costs could include honorarium and travel expenses for the installation preacher (who often comes from out of town because the inviting clergyperson is from another area), a gift for the pastor being installed (such as a stole or a chalice and paten), and finger foods for a reception after the service. Larger congregations might easily be able to absorb these costs by pulling from line items such as pulpit supply and hospitality. Many small to medium congregations cannot, however. And having the forethought to include installation expenses in the search budget - no matter how many resources the church has - sends a message about welcome, attention to detail, and the desire to develop a long, fruitful ministry with the incoming pastor.

Wherever your search team is in the process of calling a clergyperson, consider the budget for the new pastor’s installation. If there isn't one, consider why that is and use the channels appropriate to your context to correct the oversight. If your church has never formally installed a minister, begin educating your fellow church members now about an installation service’s purposes and benefits. After all, it is not just for the good of the clergyperson. It glorifies God and lays the foundation for both your new minister’s leadership and the church's future.

Photo by Adrien Olichon on Unsplash.