When a new pastor comes into an established church there can be tension as the new pastor tries to implement change, In this video, Pastor Matt Capps gives two pieces of advice for how pastors can honor the past and tradition of the church while also pushing the church forward and expanding its ministry.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
As you step into an established church, perhaps as the new senior pastor or maybe a new pastor on staff, I think it’s important that you honor the past while moving them towards the future.
And I think the proper way to do this, the proper disposition as you step into this role would be to recognize that you’re in a specific church that’s in a specific community, a specific context, there is a particular people in this church that have a unique history. And so what that does is when you begin the ministry I would say you need to take time to study the people, their history, and understand the journey they’ve been on. Because essentially you’re joining them in this journey later down the road.
So there’s two things I want to encourage you with.
HAVE PATIENCE & BUILD TRUST
Number one, be patient in order to build people’s trust. Trust is a gift that they will give you when you become the pastor, but it’s also something you have to build relationally in and among the church. I think this is even more important in a society where structures and even authority is often looked at with some sort of skepticism. And so you have to enter into the church and enter into the life of that church and learn how to build trust.
There’s simple ways to do that. Keep an open door policy. Always be willing to discuss the decisions you’re making even before you make them and get the input from others. Be willing to repent when you’re wrong and change course on things that are maybe not essential, but mean a lot to the people.
So number one, be patient in order to build trust among your people.
PRIORITIZE WHAT IS IMPORTANT
Number two, prioritize what is most important. One of the things I often think through when we are discussing ministry opportunities is to question, “Will this ministry opportunity, will it help us in our mission of making disciples or advancing the mission of the gospel? And what particular ways will it do that?”
As you assess the ministry opportunities and even consider maybe stopping or changing ministries that have been around for a while, it’s important to address these questions. As you prioritize you understand that there are some things that churches do that may not be essential, but they’re not unimportant to that church. And so, you don’t want to be a bull in a china shop that comes and just changes everything. But you want to teach and patiently lead people to understand what we need to prioritize as a church family.
Part of that is, I think, understanding that what you celebrate as a leader in the church people will emulate. So hold up the things that you think advance the mission of the church and promote gospel-proclaiming ministries in the community.