Starting well

Creative Commons "Golfland start" by Todd Dalley is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Creative Commons “Golfland start” by Todd Dalley is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

You jingle your new keys as you look for the one that fits the lock. You open your office door and find (ideally) a clean desk and a few neatly-arranged office supplies. You adjust the height on your desk chair and turn on your computer.

Now what?

It’s your first day in your new ministry. There are only possibilities before you, and there are no crises yet to direct your day. So…where do you begin?

Maybe the better question is not now what, but now who? Ministry is relational work, so whom do you need to reach out to first? Consider not just formal church and community leadership, but also other influencers (e.g., “gatekeepers”). Find out about these folks and their passions. Tell them yours. Let them fill you in about potential landmines and unwritten expectations the church has of you.

What preparations and processes is the church actively engaged in? Is your congregation getting ready for Vacation Bible School? Hitting the lull after the initial excitement of a capital campaign? Dealing with a difficult staff departure? It’s important to know your role in these situations, if any.

How will you build a relationship with the congregation as a whole? How will you use your public forum and individual interactions to know and be known by your people? It’s easier to work toward a shared mission with people you know.

What expectations do you want to set? What will your weekly work pattern be? What boundaries will you be instituting regarding personal/family time? How will you handle complaints? The easiest time to set expectations is at the beginning of your tenure. Communicate them well and maintain them as consistently as possible.

What would be some good early wins, and how will you go about getting them? What gift has the last minister left you in terms of a quick victory? Take advantage – doing so will bank some goodwill and extend your honeymoon period.

What support or resources do you need? You don’t have to do it all on your own time and dime. You may be the leader, but you and your congregation are all in this ministry together.

And…don’t forget to have fun in your new role! Ministry is a serious calling, but the work of the ministry doesn’t always have to be serious – and neither does the minister.

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