'Tis the season for new calls to begin in churches throughout our denomination. Not only are many seminary graduates finding first calls, but because of school schedules, many pastoral transitions happen during the summer months.
With these transitions comes advice, both solicited and unsolicited. I am not sure that I actually heard this in seminary, but the conventional wisdom seems to be passed down from generation to generation is this:
While I appreciate the intent of the advice that is given, it is just too black and white for me. While this may have been good advice at some point, I just don't buy it in today's church climate. In fact, I think taken to an extreme this posture can harm the church in the long run because it assumes that any movement/change that a pastor may encourage during his/her first year is done without listening to the congregation. Yeah, change for change sake is foolish, but what if the church is screaming with word and actions, "Please lead us into transformation!" To ignore the possibilities could do long term damage to pastoral authority and could make it more difficult to foster change in the future.
So rather than a hard and fast rule of "Do not change anything during your first year!" why not a more fluid and yes, ambiguous "rule" of ministry:
I suspect that this is the posture that most of us take in ministry as we navigate the nuances of pastoral ministry and human community, but just in case . . . that is my contribution to the manual.
So what other words of wisdom and nuggets of truth would you offer to those moving into new or first calls . . . inquiring minds and soon-to-be installed pastors want to know!