You've been hired by a church; now what? Integration onto a new team and into a new city can be daunting. If a ministry transition goes poorly, you’re in for a rough ride that could lead to a negative outcome for you and the church. However, if you take the right steps and navigate your steps with wisdom, it could very well be the start of a beautiful working relationship.
Here are a few simple reminders to help get you started on the right foot in your new church job.
1. Pursue understanding of the church's culture.
Begin to pursue an understanding of what makes things special about this particular place. What is the church's or ministry's history? How have they been led in the past? What have they done that’s been a success or failure? What is the team "vibe" like? What are the unspoken rules of the church staff? Asking the right questions
will be extremely important when stepping into a new environment. Soak up all the culture you can from the very beginning.
2. Listen more than talk.
Everyone likes a learner, and everyone despises a “know-it-all.” Coming in as an outsider is hard enough, but you can make things more difficult if you do more talking than listening
. You’d be amazed at how many friends you’ll make and how fast you’ll learn about the culture if you simply stop talking and listen. Plus, people that talk more than listen often tend to come off self-consumed. Be a listener first and foremost.
3. Relate to the staff & attendees.
Finding common ground is so important when stepping into a new role
. Especially as a new pastor or leader on staff, the team and the congregation needs to know who you are
before they know how competent you might be. Relating to the new team and the people you’ve been called to shepherd will go a long way to calming nerves and helping those around you to adjust to the change. Likewise, your staff team has all eyes on you during the “honeymoon” phase
. How will you gain trust and equity? Be intentional about building relationships
and investing in others.
4. Don’t trumpet your past.
The phrase, “This is how we did it at...” gets old very fast. Although you’re bringing in some very valuable experience, consistently referring to your past will seem arrogant and short-sighted. Begin to separate what you’ve done previously from the vision God is giving you in your new context. Certainly there will be some parallels, but don’t be the person that can’t fully leave his past behind. Realize that this is a new place with a completely different team and likely a unique vision of its own. Embrace it, and don’t compare it to your successes of the past.
5. Live with open hands.
Many times, ministry candidates
will try to grasp for early victories when in a new setting. I’m not sure if it’s a need to prove their value or an insecurity of their past, but it can make people look like a “credit hog.” As a newcomer to a church staff
, learn to give away wins, not hoard them for yourself. Understand that they hired you, so they already think you're the best for the job. Therefore, there’s no urgency to prove yourself or your aptitude. Use the honeymoon phase to live openhanded with your team and give them victories along the way.
With a new team, a new job and often a new city, transition is never an easy process. However, there are things that you can do to help make it easier. As you make a move, it’s our hope that you do it as smoothly as possible by following a few of these tips.
What has worked well in your past job transitions?