Q+A :: What to Say to a New Pastor

Kent Shaffer —  July 25, 2008

QUESTION:
Q+AWhat should I say in a welcome speech to a new pastor and his family?
- Justin :: Louisiana

ANSWER:
My advice is speak from your heart and be honest. Accentuate on the positives, and if there aren’t any, maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all. If I was a new pastor, some things I would love to hear are:

  • We are glad you are here.
  • We support you.
  • This is exciting!
  • Is there anything we can do to help you?
  • Do you have any questions?
  • Thank you for coming to serve our church.

Remember that there is power in whatever words you choose to say. As Proverbs 18:21 (The Message) says, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” I recommend using this opportunity to give your new pastor heartfelt support and encouragement.

For Discussion:
- Do you have any tips on giving a welcome speech to a new pastor?

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Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with OpenChurch.com to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.

5 responses to Q+A :: What to Say to a New Pastor

  1. If I were a new pastor I would love to hear that you (the congregation, staff, etc) is fully supportive of me. I would want to feel that I am stepping into a role where I can lead the church the way God designed…

  2. I actually think it matters very little what you say to a new pastor. He’s going to hear it all, and most of what he hears will be positive (even from those who will eventually be highly critical of him). And he won’t remember much of who said what. So certainly go ahead and say encouraging and supportive things to welcome him, but if you really want to encourage him, tell him specifically what you like that he’s doing after he’s been there a little while.

    Another tip on encouraging a pastor. Rather than telling him that you enjoyed his sermon immediately after he preaches it, tell him a week or two (or even longer) how that message has specifically impacted your life. Although I’m not a senior pastor, I preach when he’s out of town from time to time, and it’s these comments weeks or months later that tell me I’m truly appreciated.

  3. “If you use the bathroom in the upstairs hallway, make sure you jiggle the handle on your way out. If you don’t, it’ll keep running and that eventually floods the parlor and nursery on the first floor.”

  4. I agree with Chris H. – most of what will be said in a ‘speech’ will be filed away with all the nice little (shallow) things that polite people always say, whether we mean it or not.

    If you really want to be REAL and a bit gritty – empower him to be your spiritual leader.

    Tell him you know you have flaws – give him permission to call you out on your personal sin.
    Tell him you know the church has flaws – give him permission to identify and address the churches problems.

    Things like that will be meaningful… well, they will if you really mean it.

    If you think you are perfect and have no sin, and/or that your church is perfect and has no areas that need correction, well, tell that to your pastor up front in bold letters so he has ample time to turn around and run away from you and your church!

  5. to those who underestimate the power of words, may i suggest a book called something like “blessing or curse” by derek prince? he points out much of what The Word has to say about the power of our words and intentions to bless or curse those around and in our lives.

    i can’t relate to a new pastor coming into a fold he doesn’t know. the pastors i know are part of organic make-ups of people brought together by attraction, not promotion or denomination – just Jesus being lived out in ordinary lives and neighborhoods. seems odd for pastoring to be a vocation.

    but if God ever called me to that format of churching with others, i’d speak a blessing over him, his family, his home, his vehicle, and get a small band of men together to meet with him several times a week at first, then weekly. not for any agenda-driven thing, but for a make-shift community from which the new guy can draw from.