If you are a Methodist, there is a one in four chance your church is about to receive a new pastor. How can you best welcome a new pastor to your church? Some people think the best way is with a meal, a warm pie or a pounding (the old Southern custom of bringing fresh produce from your farm to fill their pantry.) These are all thoughtful and nice gestures. Let me suggest some more ways from my 30 years of experience. First, introduce yourself and give the new pastor time to learn your name. Take time to ask them about their hobbies and interests and share your interests as well. Make a point to share a cup of coffee and engage them in conversation.
Second, pray for them and let them know they can count on you to be a prayer partner. Inquire about their prayer needs and when they study for sermons. Pray for them on that day and during that time of study and meditation. Third, do not criticize their predecessor. This is not Christ-like and is unhealthy for your church. I have found that the folks who criticize my predecessor will eventually be critical of me as well. Reserve making judgements or quick decisions about the merit of their preaching or leadership. Give them time to adjust to your church and get comfortable with your congregation.
From the beginning, respect their family time and encourage them to care for and spend time with their family. This is one of the best examples your pastor can give the young parents in your church – a professional who makes family a priority and a joy. Give them ample time for prayer, study and meditation. To spiritually lead an effective congregation requires a leader immersed in prayer and listening for God’s leading and will for the church. And, if I am your new pastor, just a hint, I love pecan pie!