Nearly every week, we have a church call our ministry to ask for a pastor recommendation. We’re often able to recommend someone—in many cases, a graduate of West Coast Baptist College.
A few days ago, I had a conversation with a deacon from a church in Colorado. His church was preparing for a new pastor, and he called to ask for suggestions on how to best make the new pastor and his family feel loved and welcomed. I was impressed with his heart to serve and was happy to give him some suggestions.
Here are some of the ideas I shared with him:
- Prepare a biographical sketch about the pastor, and place it in the Sunday bulletin the week before he comes to promote his arrival.
- Provide help with moving costs and initial housing arrangements.
- Purchase groceries for the family, and have them already in the cupboards and fridge when they arrive.
- Purchase a special gift for each member of the family (giving special attention to a personal gift for each child), and have the gifts in the home when the family arrives.
- Prepare a list of phone numbers for local services and utilities they may need.
- Prepare a list of the phone numbers and best contact info for key church leaders, remembering to include volunteer leaders in various ministries.
- Assemble a “welcome team” to greet the family as they arrive and to help unload the moving truck.
- Present the pastor with a commemorative gift (such as a new Bible, an engraved pen, etc.) from the church on his first Sunday morning. This should be presented by the head deacon or another person appointed to represent the church family.
- Have a church-wide reception for the family on their first Sunday evening.
- Assign church members to take plenty of photographs and video footage of the first Sunday. This will be very helpful in future years when commemorating anniversaries and church milestones.
A pastor’s first Sunday in a new church is an exciting time. Undoubtedly, the pastor and his family are excited to jump in and serve. But remember that it is also a time of transition for him, his wife, and his children.
These gestures of thoughtfulness and support will be a tremendous encouragement to the family and will help bond a new pastor with a church family.