Getting Started in a New Pastorate -- By: Charles D. Belt

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 010:2 (Spring 1993)
Article: Getting Started in a New Pastorate
Author: Charles D. Belt

Getting Started in a New Pastorate

Charles D. Belt

Church Leadership Consultant, Church Leadership Department
Church Growth—Sunday School Division,
Sunday School Board of the Sunday Baptist Convention

The young pastor, armed with a seminary degree, a period of pastoral internship under his belt, and a call of God in his heart to serve his first church eagerly anticipated putting into practice his vast knowledge of “doing church the right way.” Filled with innovational ideas he believed he could guide the church to understand and accomplish its mission. The next few years would doubtless be exciting and productive for the pastor and for the congregation. The people, steeped in tradition and rich in heritage, but filled with love and support for God’s mission and God’s man, embraced the challenge for dynamic change that would result in fruitful ministry for the church.

The stage was set for a happy and healthy relationship paving the way for change and growth. Or was it? Will the dreams and expectations of the pastor be fulfilled? Will the new pastor meet the expectations of the congregation and live up to the perceptions of the people?

Every time a pastor moves to a new field of work, and every time a congregation welcomes its new pastor, a swirl of dynamics are rallying for attention and expression as the pastor and the church gear up for a relationship and ministry. A new pastor wants to be faithful to the lordship of Christ. He wants to reconcile persons to God in Christ Jesus. A pastor wants to lead the church to understand, define, and carry out its mission. But how does a pastor moving into a new church and community family bring these tasks to reality? In the following paragraphs we will examine a number of key areas a pastor needs to be aware of and refine both within himself and through functional implementation during the early months of a pastorate. I’ve made this transition four times during my ministry and through these experiences I have learned a few things about how to handle myself and how to develop a pattern for ministry that builds a strong foundation for a healthy future in the church.

I. Know who you are and what you are supposed to do—
and feel good about that.

For two years after graduation from seminary, I served as a pastoral intern. The experience was designed to help me learn the ins and outs of a pastorate without being totally accountable if I messed-up. I learned much about the work of a pastor. However, I did not learn what it’s like to actually be the pastor of a congregation (I suppose there are some things that can be learned only by experience). As I sat in my office chair in my very first pastorate I was terrified when I realized that I couldn’t<...

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