Author: Tommy Herndon
Recently, we met as a Clergy Session by Zoom. All our Elders, deacons and Licensed Pastors were approved and sent forth. Bishop Sharma Lewis announced all the appointments and for the first time in my memory this was not done at Annual Conference. Our pastors will be moving next week and they will be going into churches where no one has worshipped together for months. Many of the “Meet Your Pastors” meetings were done by Zoom so the churches have not had a chance to meet in person their new pastor or the new pastor’s family. There is no guidebook for a pastoral move during a pandemic. Here are a few things that might help during this transition.
The first word is: Be flexible! If the church has a parsonage, they should make sure the parsonage is clean and ready for a new family. Find out when moving day is and make sure there are groceries in the refrigerator and a welcome committee has planned the day. If the pastor is purchasing their home, find out where it is and make the new family feel welcome. It may be just a small group in the yard but make sure the new pastor and family know they are welcome.
The second word is technology! Everyone is doing ministry virtually or has done it that way. New pastors need to build relationships with conference calls, Zoom Meetings, emails, texting and Facebook. Help the new pastor set up Zoom Meetings to meet all the Committees. I heard about a church in Georgia that set up “Zoom in the Living Room” meetings with families. This will take some dedicated lay people to help set up but what a wonderful way for new pastor and family to meet families of the church. If you have staff, use Zoom to get to know staff one on one. If the pastor has children, get families to introduce their children so pastor’s family will be able to build relationships.
Another useful tool would be “Front Porch” visits. Always honor the six feet apart rule but pastors can put a mask on and visit on the Front Porch or Front Yard. If you are a lay person in your church and you’re getting a new pastor, help the pastor set up Front Porch visits.
The third word is to “honor” the importance of worship. Start a series of sermons on worship where you as pastor acknowledge the importance of worship in these unusual times. Read the outline provided by the Conference and talk to your District Superintendent. Be innovative and try new things but always make sure you are within the Guidelines. Get to know your Leadership Team in the church and listen to their opinions. We need to learn to work together and “play in the same sandbox.” Don’t be hung up on “we used to do it this way” because these are new times.
Be flexible! Use technology! And honor Worship and new ideas! These ideas will help in the local church with a new appointment and in churches where a pastor is returning. These are new times for all of us and it will require more effort from each of us.