Starting Well at Your Second Church

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I recently received and accepted a call to serve another church.  I confess that this call was largely welcome, as I experienced considerable frustration in my first charge.  Of course, I'm grateful for all the learning that occurred in this place, perhaps in part due to some of the frustrations I encountered.  But now I have an opportunity for a fresh new start!  I'm doing my best to end well at my first church, which, as my wise mentor said, includes preparing for your next church.  My question is, how do you start well at your next church?  Naturally, I want to avoid some of the mistakes I made and the frustrations I experienced in my first church wherever possible.  Therefore, I'm carefully debriefing my experience these days.  I recently talked with a retired Anglican minister, who said that the first six months at a church will make or break your ministry in that place.  Is that true?  If so, what can I do to be more intentional with this next chapter of ministry to ensure better health and ministry success? 

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Hey Leon. I had heard that you had received a call. As I'm still in the midst of my first call, I have no advice for you. But something I wonder about when I go to my second church some day is what to do with all the people connected with Telkwa CRC with whom I'm friends on Facebook. I think that's a variant on the question of who/how/whether to stay in contact with people from your previous church when you move to a new one. I have a feeling that with Facebook, a pastor may remain more connected to the former congregation than s/he may intend perhaps to the detriment of his/her current congregation. Part me says, "Make a clean break! Delete 'em all and make new online friends with people in your church." But another part of me says to keep in touch from time to time as I didn't love them because I had to but simply because I did, and that's what friends do when they move away. Anyway... Not so helpful for you, but I think I've wondered a bit about what you're wondering a lot! Stan
PS: Blessings to you and your family in your fresh start!

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Stanley: I appreciate your thoughts re. whom to stay connected with in one church after moving to another.  One experienced colleague said that they've always remained friends with one or two couples, which encourages me that it is healthy to stay somewhat connected with fomer parishioners.  One thing we've certainly learned in this time of transition is that next time we would aim to have at least one month off between churches, to allow for more space for packing, moving, debriefing and preparation for the next chapter of ministry.  Always lots to learn!  The Lord be with you!  Leon

Hi Leon,

Good question, how do we start well? And what did the Anglican priest refer to when he/she said the first six months make all the difference? I'm just trying to visit everyone between now and the great melt.

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Hi William,

Thanks for responding to my question/concern.  Good for you to try and visit everyone in your congregation before summer.  My approach has been to focus on building relationships with the leadership of this church as that is that one of the areas where I failed in my first charge.  Then I hope to visit all of the various ministries next fall, and then hopefully next winter I'll seek to visit the various families.  May the Lord guide us as we week to begin well!  As for the advice of the Anglican priest that I referred to earlier, I believe what he meant is that the basic pattern for working and relating to each other is established early on in a church.  What I've noticed is that once a precedent is set in a certain area, it is difficult to change it.  So, for example, I'm trying to help this church realize that a good pastor is an unhurried pastor--one who spends "quality" time with the Lord and people.  I guess we'll see if this view takes or not!