Pastoral Transition Tools – Pastor to Pastor Debrief

I have come to understand that the planning and execution of a pastoral transition can make a significant difference in the fruitfulness of both a pastor and congregation in the months ahead. There are a number of resources that I have used to develop tools which I have used in transition. You can find these and more of my writing on pastoral transitions here. Also, I commend these books to you that I have found to be helpful during a pastoral transition (Amazon affiliate links):

The Pastor to Pastor Debrief occurs between the outgoing and incoming pastor. There are a number of questions, practicalities, and knowledge about the workings of the congregation that can be incredibly helpful to pass from one pastor to the next. Here is an outline of a Pastor to Pastor Debrief that I have used as a guide during my pastoral transitions. It is compiled from the resources above and some additions of my own. While every question may not be appropriate for every setting, this provides an outline to cover some of the most important topics. Enjoy!

Worship

  • Particular traditions and styles
  • Attendance trends
  • Recent controversies
  • Preaching style
  • Time issues
  • Important traditions
  • Seasonal variations
  • Special services
  • Who is involved in planning worship?
  • Are any new services being planned?
  • What is the role of clergy and laity during worship?
  • What is the role of children and youth in worship?
  • Is there children’s worship during the main worship services?
  • Is there a children’s message in the service? If so, who is responsible for the children’s message?
  • How is the bulletin and / or presentation prepared? Who is involved? What is the timleine for completion each week?
  • How does the church conduct the sacraments? When is communion offered and by what means?
  • Are tehre ecumenical community worship events? When?

Grow

  • Adult education / formation programs
  • Children’s education / formation programs
  • Youth education / formation programs
  • Important new programs that need support
  • Older programs that are important
  • Seasonal traditions

Serve

  • Board role
  • Commitee structure
  • Meeting cycles
  • Annual program calendar
  • Report formats
  • Facility issues and policies
  • Keys and access issues
  • Alarm system

Personnel

  • Staff structure
  • Job descriptions
  • Evaluation processes
  • Staff meetings and agenda
  • Staff issues
  • Recent hires and terminations
  • Training and coaching
  • Are any staff positions currently vacant?
  • Are any staff changes needed or expected?

Buildings and Grounds

  • How are building items and maintenance handled? Who orders supplies? Is there a custodian? What are her / his hours?
  • What community groups use the buildgin?

Information Technology

  • Describe the computer network. Is it wireless? Is the pastor provided with a computer? What kind?
  • Does the church have a web page? If so, who maintains it?
  • What are the appropriate passwords the pastor needs to know? How will the pastor’s email be set up?
  • Who knows about the church’s membership and financial software?

Give

  • Fundraising approaches
  • Giving patterns and records
  • Financial trends
  • Financial issues
  • Are there any tenure-bridging financial issue?
  • Are there any tenure-bridging capital issues?
  • What is the normal stewardship process in this church?
  • Who is in charge of promoting stewardship in the church?
  • What is the number of pledging and non-peldging households?
  • What is the average financial contribution of each member family to the church?
  • What is the pastor’s expected role in stewardship campaigns?
  • Does the church have a permanent endowment fund? If so, what is it used for and how is it funded?

Share

  • What is the church’s primary method of communication with its member? What percentage of the church membership uses electronic communication (email, text, interet, etc.)?
  • How often does the church newsletter come out? How is it distributed? What does the pastor need to prepare for the newsletter?
  • How does the church communicate with the community? What kind of advertising does teh church do?

Care

  • Lay care team
  • Names of terminally ill
  • Names of bereaved in last twelve months
  • Patterns of pastoral care
  • What agencies or resources are available for those who may call with needs for emergency food, clothing, shelter, or assistance?
  • What families are currently experiencing loss, illness, or special needs?
  • Who are the homebound members? Is there a regular ministry in place for them?

Pastoral

  • Unusual expectations of pastor
  • Is there a ministerial assocaition in the community? Provide contact information.

Church Climate

  • How warm are church members to one another? To new people?
  • How is the morale in this church?
  • How open is this church to change?
  • What are the significant conflicts in the church?
  • How central is faith to members’ lives?
  • How conservative or liberal is this church?
  • How diverse is this church theologically, ethnically, and demographically?
  • Where are the landmines?

People

  • Who is angry at the church?
  • Who is angry at the pastor?
  • Who are important allies?
  • Who can’t be trusted?
  • Who has an agenda?
  • Who will keep confidences?
  • Who is in danger of burning out?
  • Who is undersused?
  • Who has recently retired?
  • Who are the five most influential persons in the church?
  • Who are the saints?

Documents to Include

  • Copy of the church’s vision / mission statement
  • Most recent minutes of all-church conferences or meetings
  • Church directory, annotated with information about relationships, pastoral care nees, and potential leaders
  • Church email list
  • Organizational chart and list of church lay leaders and committee members
  • Church policies for weddings, funerals, building use, employee handbook, etc.
  • Current and last two years of budget reports
  • Latest month’s financial statement
  • Last three church newsletters
  • Recent bulletins for each worship service
  • Bulletins for most recent Christmas Eve and Easter services, as well as other special services that are routinely part of the church’s life
  • Church keys

Blessings of Ministry – Babies (1 of 3)

There are many blessings of ministry as a pastor. One of those is to be with families with new babies. In the past several weeks, I have had the opportunity to be with two families who welcomed a new member to their family, as well as pray before surgery for an infant. Each one of these are doing great.

What blessings do you find in ministry?

Snippets and Smidgens of Faith

NPR Kľak, bučina
Image via Wikipedia

“The problem is: We just don’t do whole things anymore. We don’t read complete books — just excerpts. We don’t listen to whole CDs — just samplings. We don’t sit through whole baseball games — just a few innings. Don’t even write whole sentences. Or read whole stories like this one. We care more about the parts and less about the entire. We are into snippets and smidgens and clips and tweets. We are not only a fragmented society, but a fragment society. And the result: What we gain is the knowledge — or the illusion of knowledge — of many new, different and variegated aspects of life. What we lose is still being understood.”

This is a quote from a story that NPR ran titled We Are Just Not Digging The Whole Anymore. I find aspects of this to be true in the church. People may say things like:

  • I want to find the one verse that applies to my life.
  • The children’s ministry doesn’t really matter because I don’t have kids.
  • How can I continue to grow after I have gone through all of the Disciple Bible studies?
Do you ever hear things like that? What impact does this have on the community or our faith? How can the church pay more attention to the whole?
(I wanted to practice self awareness and let you know that I am aware that I just pulled out a quote from a much longer article and wrote my own short form response. In any case, I hope that you find value here.)

Scripture Monday – 2 Kings 10:15

John Wesley either quotes this passage or something very similar is attributed to him. Can you help clarify for me?

2 Kings 10:15

“After he left there, he came upon Jehonadab son of Rekab, who was on his way to meet him. Jehu greeted him and said, “Are you in accord with me, as I am with you?” “I am,” Jehonadab answered. “If so,” said Jehu, “give me your hand.” So he did, and Jehu helped him up into the chariot.”

The Church Should Be More Like @Gowalla

One of the latest waves in social media is location based services like Gowalla and Foursquare. The concept is to use your mobile device to “Check In” to locations that you visit and use it as a tool to connect with people and places. Gowalla recently released an application programming interface (API) to allow other applications to be developed that link to data from Gowalla. The guidelines for using the API, from the website, are:

  • Check in where the user actually is
  • Don’t encourage checking in where the user isn’t
  • Never check in without permission from the user
  • Encourage social behavior, discourage bot-like behavior
  • Rapid, repeated checkins are not tolerated
  • Use the API responsibly

These were first brought to my attention from  this article on TechCrunch, which summarizes the API Guidelines in this way, “Or to put it more succinctly: authenticity.” You have to actually be at a location to check in. I can’t check in to a location in St. Louis if I am in Kansas City.

Authenticity.

This is why the church should be more like Gowalla – connect real people in real places with a real God.

#6qumc – Data (5 of 5)

6 Questions for The United Methodist Church is an open project and I have been encouraged by the response.

If you are interested in data of participation from the project check it out at http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=r06wd0oDSanzEZ3I9gWArVQ&output=html

Data for the day should be added in the morning. Feel free to use the data how you want.

By September 30, I believe that it is possible to see 10,000 people submit 2,500 questions and cast 75,000 votes.

What do you think?

To participate visit: http://bit.ly/6qumc

To read more, visit: http://www.umcyoungclergy.com/6qumc

#6qumc – Who can participate? (3 of 5)

Within the first day of 6 Questions for The United Methodist Church, someone asked,

Is this only for young clergy?

The answer is a resounding no. While 6 Questions for The United Methodist Church is hosted by www.umcyoungclergy.com it is open to all people of The United Methodist Church.

The project becomes better with each person that votes or submits a question. I trust the witness of the Spirit active in many people.

To participate visit: http://bit.ly/6qumc

To read more, visit: http://www.umcyoungclergy.com/6qumc