I am preparing to transition to a new appointment beginning July 1. One of the things that I have learned from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership is that good leaders ask the right questions. I have been working on a list of questions that I believe will be helpful in getting started well at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado.
- How is the church engaging the community?
- What can you tell me about the United Methodist Men?
- What can you tell me about the United Methodist Women?
- How would the church say that they have grown in the past year?
- What is going on during the week?
- What is the congregation’s favorite way of learning? Teaching, book study, etc.
- How are people growing in their faith outside of worship?
- Who are the key influencers in the congregation?
- Who are the people / families that will do whatever it takes at the church?
- Who might peer churches be for support, encouragement and benchmarking?
Who are the staff and leaders that are great Bible study / small group leaders?
Mission and Vision
- In what ways do the vision and purpose guide what the church does?
- How are the vision and purpose communicated to the staff and congregation?
- What is the vision and purpose of the church?
- For the facility, what needs regular maintenance?
- For the facility, what needs to be repaired?
- For the facility, what needs to be replaced?
- What is the state of the facility?
- How might can I best serve the church?
- What are some ways to get congregational buy in?
- What are some ideas for “quick wins” that might be possible?
- What are things that I might do that have never been done before?
- What facts or realities about me or my ministry can I share that might be helpful for the congregation?
- What are the die hard principles or practices that if I change them will get me tarred and feathered?
- What efforts exist to close the back door? (Keep people engaged who might otherwise leave)
- What are the biggest barriers to people coming in the door?
- What is being done to bring in new members?
- What kind of follow up for first time visitors happens?
- What new networks of people can I engage and develop?
- How does the budget break out between compensation, operations, mission and ministry?
- Is the budget growing?
- Is the church paying its apportionments in full?
- Where do people gather for coffee or breakfast in town?
- What opportunities for mission in the community exist?
What other questions would you add to this list?
14 replies on “Questions for a Congregation from a Newly Appointed Pastor in the #UMC”
Hi Pastor Andrew,
Just wondered if you will continue this site when you move? I enjoy reading your comments.
Frankly very troubled by your questions to get a “buy in” and “quick wins.”
Your friend – I appreciate your comment here. Let me say a bit more about those two questions. When asking about “buy in” what I am hoping to get at is how does the congregation respond to leadership – Who are the key influencers? Does progress get made in committee? in one on one conversation? What are the key stakeholder groups who need to be addressed for which possible venture?
In regard to quick wins, it is certainly very likely that if there are any quick and easy ways for progress to be made as a congregation they have probably already been achieved. At the same time, there may be things that I could do as a result of who I am or just the fact of being new that could make a lot of sense for the congregation. In addition this is something that is probably not just helpful when beginning new but something that might always be helpful.
Thanks for raising the issue. Will you please share any additional thoughts, feelings or opinions?
“What are some ways to get congregational buy in” is a great question.
I can understand it can be viewed as self-serving. And at the same time, I know Andrew’s heart and don’t find myself questioning his motives.
I’m not very troubled by hearing of a Pastor wanting to get started off on the right foot, a Pastor not wanting to squander his honeymoon period at a church because he decided to wait a year or two to “earn the people’s” trust.
I’m more troubled when I hear that a Pastor has had an affair, embezzled money. Or a Pastor that doesn’t preach Jesus Christ.
Otherwise, they are great ideas. What can a Pastor do early on to engage partners and allies in ministry? Questions we should all ask…
jtaylor527 – Thanks for your encouragement and response. 🙂
Awesome, exhaustive list of questions! I’m printing it and taking it into my new appointment!
Emily – Glad you found them to be helpful. Are there others that you would add?
First, I want to echo an earlier comment about what will happen to the blog when you move down I-35.
Second, I am on the road this weekend and will be using some of your questions to encourage the congregation to think about the future for themselves and for their little country church. The link to my post will be up sometime on Sunday, the 15th.
DrTony – I will keep blogging here. I hope to be more regular with posting but time will tell. I am glad that you have found those questions to be helpful!
One I’ve always thought was a good one, especially for those of us who serve “First UMC” is, if you were going to change the name of the church what would it be? I think that forces people to look at who they are, or who they might want to be and how it is proclaimed to the community. (although make sure they know you are not changing the name, or they might run you out of town before you even start.) Second, I would ask If money, time, facilities, etc. were not an issue what would you most like to see this church do? Again it goes to who they are and who they might want to be, and then you work to help them remove the perceived barriers.
John – Interesting question. I hadn’t thought about these at all and they are great! Thank you for sharing!
Here’s a blog post in which another pastor asked a similar question; his questions and the resulting comments may be helpful:
I am preparing for my first meeting with the new PPRC. One question I plan to ask is “How can I be in prayer for the congregation as this transition takes place?”
[…] want to know EVERYTHING about your transition. I’ve already enjoyed what you have posted so far. I am so excited to be taking my first appointment at the Hagan/Union charge in the South Georgia […]