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Essential tasks

  • Helping congregation and staff know what to expect in the coming days, including timeline for the minister’s arrival and specifics of the minister’s position description. Information helps temper anxiety, and it keeps expectations properly placed.
  • Gathering essential information about church and community to give to minister. The new minister can get off to a faster, more focused start if provided with details about traditions, influencers, church procedures, and community events and services.
  • Planning for the initial welcome and for a later installation service. Solid, long-lasting relationships begin with warm welcomes.
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Reflection questions

  • What does the minister need from us in the short and long term to be fruitful?
  • What are our congregation’s gifts of hospitality, and how might we creatively leverage them to welcome our new minister?
  • What stresses do we anticipate for our minister’s family (if applicable)? How might we help mitigate those?
  • In what ways might we formally acknowledge - and create ownership around - the covenantal nature of the pastor-parish relationship?
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Best practices

  • Stoking excitement about the new minister’s arrival
  • Being an advocate for the new minister
  • Dialing back expectations and ramping up welcome of minister’s family (if applicable)
  • Setting up or encouraging the minister to set up a pastoral support team
  • Building in and encouraging support for the new minister from beyond the congregation
  • Ensuring strong boundaries for the previous minister and advertising the reasons for them
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Tools

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From the minister's perspective

  • Relief that the search process has come to a close.
  • Exhilaration about endless possibilities and desire for a fast start.
  • Continued grief about what the minister left behind.
  • Concerns for family (if applicable): big changes and worries about the "fishbowl."
  • Curiosity about people and systems, uncertainty about what the landmines are.
  • Insecurity about others’ unstated expectations of the minister.
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Can we close the book on the search?

  • The new minister (and family, if applicable) is settled into the church and community.
  • The minister has a pastoral support team to turn to for honest feedback and encouragement.
  • The congregation members have embraced the minister (and family, if applicable) as their own.
  • There is good, ongoing communication flow between minister and congregation about expectations of one another.