Friday, June 15, 2007

transitioning

This is an important season in my life. I officially start at my new church on July 15th. For the past five years I've been serving as an associate pastor at a medium size church (appr.300 in attendance, spread over 3 worship services)in a town that has been pretty much the same size (11,000) for a number of years. In a month, I'll begin serving as the solo pastor of a church with one service of approximately 50-55 people in a town of around 6800 that is booming with growth.

I've been praying and trying to grasp what ministry will be like in this new paradigm. I'm trying to get read up and prayed up for the new opportunities, but its definitely new territory, geographically and leadership wise. Any thoughts?

15 comments:

TN Rambler said...

No real thoughts other than that you will be in my prayers. Just offer them Christ.

Blessings,
Wayne

Lon Alderman said...

I'd recommend establishing yourself as the spiritual leader of the church. Every conversation, meeting, decision, conflict, celebration (etc.) has a spiritual dimension to it. Try to find it, communicate it, then lead toward it. Transition is the name of the game in the good ol' UMC, so invest your leadership capital in the area that will last beyond your tenure, invest in the spiritual health of the congregation.

Your in my prayers, too!
Lon

Anonymous said...

Jason, it's Allen. Preach the living daylights out of your sermons and give your people all the personal touch you can - calls, visits, prayer, etc. Visit your new nursing home members - that will give you even more bounce in your congregation.
Two books for consideration:
The Healthy Small Church by Dennis Bickers
Can Our Church Live? by Alice Mann
Any Alban Institute stuff on small churches is good, too.
I also have some stuff I've written to approach revitalizing and growing churches - I've led our small churches to 4 church growth & evangelism awards over the last 4 years! One of my churches won the award through 6 months of ministry and work!
Another thought: send out a letter to your new congregation introducing yourself and your family.
Be bold: do a "phone blitz" - call all of your church members in the church directory and introduce yourself and invite them to worship!
Be yourself and let the people get to know who you are (by talking about yourself through your preaching). You are going to be awesome in Mascoutah! Mascoutah is part of the boom of the Metro-East (Illinois-side of St. Louis).
Convince the people that you are excited to be with them!
Blessings on your ministry - I'll visit Sunday morning with my family on Oct. 14.

Allen

Jason Woolever said...

thanks for the great thoughts, Lon and Allen. I appreciate them very much. And all the prayers too Wayne. Muchas Gracias!

JD said...

Jason,

There is a reason that God has moved you and the Conference is moving you. They see great things in you as God and your current congregation do. I do like the post that John had a few months ago when he was assigned. I link it here. Even though you have been a minister for a while, I think some of the insight here will be helpful. I have forwarded this to one of our church members that recently joined "the team" and was appointed to the church in Splendora.

My prayers are with you and your family. It's OK to keep being nervous. We will just keep lifting you up in the process.

PAX
JD

Brett Royal said...

This was my first experience in the Methodist Church saying goodbye to a pastor and friend, and hello to a new one. I can't imagine how difficult it is to come to a new church not knowing much about it or the people.

Brett Royal said...

I read this interesting post this morning. It comes from the perspective of the church member holding their pastor accountable. It may give you some insight as you begin your new ministry.

Jason Woolever said...

JD and Brett, thanks for the links. I am going to continue to reference the advice I received from the comments on this post. muchas gracias mis amigos.

Armando said...

Jason, all will be fine. Remember that your work is only worth if He is building the House! If He has moved you to that new setting, He will provide the right directions for you.
Be blessed,
Armando

The Thief said...

I'm a solo pastor of a church of just under 100 in a town of just under 900, coming from a 500+ church associate pastor position in a city.

The personal touch is key. After I'd been here a month, I invited people in manageable groups (by sign-up) into my house (the parsonage they had renovated for us to live in) to get to know them and where God was already at work. It was a great way to start ministry with them (I would have had them earlier, but the house wasn't finished yet, and part of the deal was to let them see the finished product!)

I also have established a relationship with the pastor of the "other" church in town, and that's awesome. Now we can truly say we're not "competing" but working together. Plus it's good to have that kind of encouragement.

gmw said...

congradulations on your appointment to this new church. may God's grace go before, come behind you, and come around you so that you efforts may acheive greater things for the Kingdom than you could do in your own strength. prayers and blessings for a truly anointed ministry in your new place.

mechris said...

hi mechris,will miss you. thanks for conferming me. they getting great person. miss marley and landrey too. take care. i will not forget you. mechris

Jason Woolever said...

thanks for the blessing Guy

Christopher, I'm sure going to miss you too!

Rick said...

Jason,

1) Discover quickly who it is in town who knows the most about the citizens there. It may be the Postmaster, the City Secretary, the Police Chief, etc. They will know when someone is sick or hurting, and if they know you really care, they will call you and let you know.

2) Support the local schools, even if your children are still too young to attend. Go to games as you can, school carnivals, etc.

3) Do a lot of walking, or riding a bike (provided the weather permits), especially downtown. You ought to be seen several times a week at the post office, grocery store, city hall . . . it is a great way of helping people in the community get to know who you are. Introduce yourself to the mayor, city manager, police and fire chiefs. Let them know they can call on you if there is a bad wreck, suicide or fire. Doing this will also help you discover the "sacred cows" which you do not want biting you in the backside at the wrong time.

4) In other words, you are being assigned to a church, but you are also being assigned to a community. Become a part of that community. The citizens will appreciate it, and you will have some unique pastoral opportunities as a result. Your parishioners will also appreciate it, because you will spend time knowing them, and they will be pleased that you know some of their neighbors also.

Joe McDonald said...

Hey Jason,

First of all, congratulations! I can't recall if your preference was to be a directing pastor but even if not, I trust that you're at peace and excited.

Second of all, I'm no pastor so all that I can offer are my own leadership mistakes from business. There were about 25 people in the department. My biggest regret is that I tried too quickly to change things before taking the time to understand the department's history and (like others have commented) to earn people's trust by caring about them personally. Nowadays I tell people that I wish salaries were disconnected from performance during their first year in a new place, so that a new leader can take the time to really settle in and not feel the pressure to change things right away. "Trust your people" is a principle I still struggle with today, but it works in most situations. United Methodist charges are short enough without having to waste time undoing one's own hasty mistakes! Take care.

Joe McDonald
joedena1998@yahoo.com