Starting in a new job is intimidating anyway, but a new job in a new church with new people can be overwhelming. There are things that you can do right away that can set you up for success in ministry. There are also things that you can do that can get your ministry set off on the wrong foot right away.
1. Pray hard. You have likely prayed hard through the entire process of accepting this ministry position. Don’t stop now. Just like you knew you couldn’t make this major decision in your own power, depend on Him for your ministry as well. Pray for wisdom. Pray to see each situation through His eyes. Pray for favor with your new co-workers and congregation. Pray for God to use you and direct you.
2. Observe a lot. Do not go in with plans to immediately change lots of things. You need to spend a lot of time watching and learning. Understand how the church functions, what the people like, what the systems are like and why, get to know families, etc… Take lots of notes and for the most part, keep your mouth shut. You need to earn the right to be heard.
3. Build relationships. Since you aren’t changing much yet, use all of that time getting to know people. Get to know your co-workers. Get to know volunteers. Get to know families in the church. Get to know the kids. Invest much in relationships.
4. Study the culture. The more you can truly understand the culture of your church and of your city, the more effective you will be in ministry. Learn everything you can about what the culture values. This takes time.
5. Serve. Matthew 20:28 says of Jesus, ” the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve”. You need to model this in the early days of your ministry. People are studying you, just like you are studying them. Whatever position you have accepted, do not come in with a chip on your shoulder. Come in with a heart to serve the people. Look for opportunities to serve those in your congregation from the start.
6. Only change things that will be quick and easy wins. Don’t even think about making major changes before you’ve done all of the things above. However, there may be simple things that will make you a rock star to your new volunteers or staff. If there is something you can do that will immediately make their worlds better but will not cause any waves, do it.
7. Love your family. It is likely that this transition for you has been a large transition for your family as well. New ministry will consume you. Be proactive in protecting your family as priority.