September 5th 2007 1 comment so far
Generally a returning pastor hopes for a warm welcome””nothing ostentatious, but genuine gladness nonetheless. Even pastors who serve with great confidence in the Lord hope to hear a word about whether they were missed. That’s not because they believe they are indispensable, but rather because they are appreciated for their place in the Body of Christ.
He is also deeply excited about sharing what God did for him””to test new ideas and further those ideas. Yet he desperately wants to reconnect with the old momentum as well, one that he left prayerfully in the hands of others. He wants to know what happened during his absence””what we (the congregation) learned, what we felt about things that happened, what we feel about our future. He wants””and needs””to be drawn back into our life. If you could see into a shepherd’s heart, you’d see your face; he cares about you and wants to know how you are doing.
In light of this general description, allow me to suggest some things that you can do to welcome a returning pastor who again puts on his spurs for action.
- Greet him at church with a warm welcome.
- Tell him that you were praying for him while he was gone.
- Listen for the new refreshment in his words. Remark about what you are hearing. A word of praise and reflection can do wonders for everyone. Pray for his renewed vision and passion.
- Give him time to reinsert himself into his office schedule. As well, give him time to create and reinforce some of his new ideas. Remember that he will be living with a tension between excitement and rest. If you catch a wistful longing in his eyes, simply understand what he is feeling.
The bottom line is to make a proactive effort to welcome a returning pastor in a way that is meaningful to both of you. Certainly a good shepherd does what it takes to get his sheep to pasture””even if he is unnoticed at times. Yet a good sheep communicates his/her care and appreciation to the shepherd as well. The combination makes for a wonderful experience.
Published by: Paul Utnage
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