Here are my translations of the sixth through tenth commandments into practices for congregations to covenant around when welcoming their new ministers. (You can find the first five here.)
6. Thou shalt encourage, encourage, encourage. Share your hopes with your new minister. Express your excitement that your minister is part of your community. When things go well, give your minister genuine and specific affirmation. That feedback provides replenishment, motivation, and focus.
7. Thou shalt address concerns directly and promptly. Don’t allow problems to fester, and don’t relay your beefs through a third party. Instead, give constructive and timely comments so that the issue can be nipped in the bud. Though it is hard to tell people things it might hurt them to hear, your minister will appreciate your courage, forthrightness, and investment in the relationship and in the church and will know that you can be counted on to give honest feedback.
8. Thou shalt pay your minister fairly. Appropriate cash salary and benefits and annual cost of living pay increases will allow your minister to focus on ministry alongside you instead of on scraping together enough money for groceries.
9. Thou shalt refrain from making assumptions, and thou shalt stop rumors in their tracks. It’s easy to make mental leaps about someone you’re just getting to know, then spread them around as facts. Instead, be curious. Ask. Use your wondering to build the relationship.
10. Thou shalt manage your expectations. Remember that this is a new city, faith community, and role for your minister, and there will be a period of adjustment. Be helpful and welcoming without monopolizing the minister’s time and attention.
Chisel these guidelines into a couple of stone slabs and keep them constantly before you, and you will have laid the groundwork for years of growing in God and serving your neighbors together.