Every minister who takes a new position on a church staff or as Senior Pastor has to go through a transition. In the business world this transition has been referred to as the First 90 Days or the First 100 Days.

When I was in a new position for a national agency, I was encouraged to read a book by a Harvard Business School professor, by Michael Watkins, The First 90 Days. I must say, Wow. This is a book full of ideas, and illustrations of situations managers go through in the first 90 days as they start their new role as a leader and take the helm of the company.

As I have consulted with pastors in new roles, I have heard of many situations and have been asked many questions how to deal with situations they encountered as a new pastor. So I started thinking about the principles from Watkins’ book that could be applied for a minister/pastor. Can we and how do we apply his key principles for a new staff minister or Senior Pastor?

I conducted some research to see what others had already contributed. If seemed that several individuals referred to Watkins’ book. And other contributors though they didn’t mention Watkins book, their suggestions were almost identical. I have learned sometimes it is not best not reinvent the wheel, but we do need to change the trend patterns to get better traction or change what type of materials are used to get a better ride? Amen?

Here are a few of the steps that a pastor should put into practice to help make the transition as the NEW Pastor/Shepherd/Leader and earn credibility and trust with his new flock.

  1. Spend time in God’s word and prayer. Get in the word and get a word.
  2. Spend time with church leaders and listen to the stories and concerns of your members. Allow them to share without interruption if possible.
  3. Clarify expectations. As the new pastor the church needs to be clear on what he expects from them and clear on what they expect from him.
  4. Get a vision for the ministry from God and begin to formulate how you will cast the vision with staff, deacons, elders and church.
  5. Meet with key Ministry church leaders individually and as a group and share your vision with them.
  6. Spend time and fellowship with your staff and leadership. Expect as the new pastor to spend some long weekends, building relationships and bonding with church members. Your church wants to see and hear the pastor outside the pulpit.
  7. Learn who are the Power brokers – don’t play church politics but is it to your benefit to discover who the decision makers are in your church and become their friend.
  8. Let your church members know you are excited to be their pastor. “Tell them you Love them.”
  1. Learn about church’s history and the community’s. Learning is connecting. Use this knowledge to shape your strategy for building relationships, evangelism, missions in the community and for the ministry.
  2. Get to know your community. Go into the community as a church and serve and love the community.
    • Eat in the local restaurants
    • Join a Civic club
    • Minister to the First Responders – either you can or recruit a staff person or church team to minister to them. The ministries of your church will determine this role. (Lunch or cookout)
    • Connect with the local PTA(s) – Offer to host a Teachers Appreciation Day, lunch and provide substitutes while they eat.
    • Don’t’ speak badly of the former pastor
    • Celebrate with the Community – parades, holidays, fairs, etc.
  1. Get an updated demographic study. Then have your leadership teams study and digest the information that pertains to them and be ready to
  • present to staff
  • ask them how does the information impact how they will do ministry finishing out the year
  • How does information impact how they will do ministry for the next year, two, three, four and five years?
  • What changes do they need to make?
    • Personnel, add/delete; how you operate as a staff; church
    • Strategy? Reevaluate at least annually
    • Budget? Try Zero based budgeting as you design your ministry strategy
    • Volunteers? Recruiting and how they train them
    • Evangelism?
      • Approaches and methodology
    • Disciple making?
      • (not just one way or method) find what works best, age based and community
    • How to follow-up with visitors?
      • You will need multiple connecting points, like a Lego block
    • How to motivate and mobilize church members to be more intentional
      • Praying for lost
      • Evangelizing lost
      • Inviting lost and the unchurched?
  1. Challenge the church to take their role as part of the Church ministry serious. How will they reach lost people in the community?
  2. You need to get a report on the budget and see where the church is financially.
  • Get a report from each staff member to see how much of budget is left for remainder of year.
    • What updating or repairs does the church need that is immediate?
    • Least cost upgrades. Ask staff and church leaders, what can the church accomplish that will not cost much and the entire church can pitch in, purchase, provide and accomplish together.
    • Focus on some quick easy wins as
      • a staff
      • a Church
      • look for low hanging fruit, ministry and evangelism, missions (locally)
  1. How many salvations and baptisms did they have last year?
  • Witnessing reports from staff weekly. Keeps them focused on the main thing
  • How can each ministry reach more lost people?
  • Have them set goals each year for salvations and baptisms
  • Set goals for disciple making/Bible study groups
  • Find the Low Hanging Fruit and reach them
    • There are lost people who are ready to be reached with the gospel and be cost-effective. We just need to discover where they are.
  1. Celebrate at the end of your first 90 days
  • You want your church to feel that something new and fresh is happening at the church
  • Create a culture of God working and expecting Him to work
  1. Celebrate at the end of 6 months
  2. Celebrate at the end of 12 months. And then every win thereafter
  3. Develop a strategy for contingencies, good and bad
  4. Evaluate weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually. Make adjustments as needed
  5. Seek the Lord in every new opportunity
  6. There are no barriers just opportunities for God to show Himself strong!

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