Appointment season in the United Methodist Church comes around every year at this time. This June many churches will say good-bye to their current pastor as they greet a new pastor. Change, expected or not, can be stressful for congregations. But, “passing the baton,” pastor to pastor, is part of our Methodist heritage.
Here’s the good news: Change can also become an opportunity for mission focus, reevaluation of church values and growth. A change of pastor is a chance for new eyes to envision otherwise unseen possibilities. As laity, we pray for a smooth transition and that God will embolden us to support and minister alongside our pastors.
Prayer goes a long way toward calming the turmoil of change, enabling acceptance of what is new, and opening our eyes to see what God is doing in our midst.
- Pray that congregations receive pastors sent to new charges in the spirit in which they are sent.
- Pray that PPR committees provide the support and leadership that pastors and congregations need for continuity during a time of change.
- Pray that congregations partner with new pastors and encourage them to minister as John Wesley taught: “Act in all things, not according to your own will, but as a son in the Gospel.”
- Pray that we laity follow suit alongside our pastors.
If a new pastor is sent to your church, please read this excellent resource provided by the Missouri Conference: http://www.moumethodist.org/passingthebaton.
Pay attention to social media. See “Digital Transitions When Pastors Change” at: https://www.churchleadership.com/leading-ideas/digital-transitions-pastors-change/.
Look at this resource from churchleadership.com for 50 ways to welcome your new pastor: https://www.churchleadership.com/50-ways/50-ways-to-welcome-a-new-pastor/.
We are an itinerant church. Wesley’s vision of itinerant ministry encourages a system of sending and sending again. But remember that as these changes occur, the mission of the church stands fast – the mission is unchanging even as leadership changes. Pray for each UMC congregation that the Holy Spirit guides and directs vital change in the local church, new pastor or not. Read more…