Pastors in general must understand the core values of newly appointed congregations. New pastors who are eager to establish their position, must recognize that this can only come when respect for current values of this congregation is upheld. Diving-in to make immediate changes, can jeopardize the positions of the old. Likewise, it can cause members of the church to question these motives.
New pastors are often stressed and concerned about making a good impression. However, it’s important to note that church members and their board are equally as anxious. Spiritual nourishment takes priority in these circumstances. From the pastor’s perspective, spiritually nourishing the church is understanding its roots, the common values of its members, and its expected direction with your new leadership. This should not be rushed, allowing for at least a year to 18 months to thoroughly understand granular ideas and tenets.
The church is vulnerable. It is said, based on general experiences that some congregants sit and wait for reasons to leave the church. For some, their motives become the embedded credence of why honoring God in this way is simply not worth the time. As pastors, our roles are to create disciples; people who are excited and ready to serve God. Research share that there is a tremendous decline in the attendance of church goers (Pew Research, 2015). Yet, the considerate pastor can still move a congregation forward into building a participating community, through a collective social formation (de Roest, 2008) of old and new methods and values.
In a recent study on church community and values, de Roest (2008) asked several questions.
- Can Christian faith be transferred and communicated without community?
- Can Christian faith do without affect-laden face-to-face relationships among a group of individuals, relationships that often crisscross and reinforce one another.
- Can it do without a measure of commitment to a set of shared values, norms, and meanings? (pg.212)
I recognize that each answer to this question can be truly different. Albeit, I also know that the nurturing of any congregation with God’s words, should be the most important aspect of pastoral care. What this simply means to me is that every answer, though different, may share some resemblance. Srubas (2017) acknowledged that “Stability and obedience make possible our ongoing conversion into people whose interior lives and outward behavior come to resemble those of Jesus.” (pg.20). It’s this and only this, my colleagues.
Take time to know your flock! Understand their values to build trust and fulfilling relationships, and to repair those relationships that are broken. God desires only this. Make HIM proud.
Rev. M. Charlotte Oliver
Founding President & CEO
Executive Pastor| Church Consultant
de Roest, H. (2008). The precarious church: Developing congregations in an individualized society. Ecclesiology, 4(2). doi: 10.1163/174413608X308627
Pew Research (2015). America’s changing religious landscape. Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/
Srubas, R.M. (2017). Monastic values and minister’s vocation. Benedictines (70)1. Retrieved from https://www.mountosb.org/