In our denomination, if there is going to be a pastoral transition, it most often happens July 1 and it happens simultaneously around the conference. It’s been a year since our church welcomed a new pastor. It was unusual, but our previous pastor, my dad, had been here for nearly 30 years. Many folks in our congregation had never really experienced a transition since attending here.
The transition went well on all accounts and for anyone interested, here’s the basic scheme for the five events we hosted last year to help make it all as smooth as possible:
First Sunday in June
Church-wide farewell dinner and program
The focus of this event was to invite the church family. RSVPs were required and the meal was catered. A team planned the program and it was a mix of people sharing, funny stories, music, videos and skits. It was a great evening. Here’s one video example:
Last Sunday morning in June
Combined the worship services together for a final, farewell worship service
Typically, there are four morning worship services but for special occasions we combine the services. For this Sunday, the choirs and worship bands participated, there was a little video, and there was a message.
Last Sunday afternoon in June
An open house for church members and the community
This open house included some refreshments and lots of opportunity to visit and talk. It was hosted from about 1:00 – 4:00 pm.
First Sunday in July
Introduction and Welcome of the new pastor and Family (with cake/punch reception)
Since the first Sunday in July can be a low attendance Sunday, the plan was to do one small welcome, then an official welcome party later. The small welcome consisted of introducing the new pastor and family and having cake and punch between services.
Second Sunday in July
Official welcome party for the new pastor with a cookout and activities after worship
The official welcome included the regular Sunday worship services followed by a cookout and party for the entire church. The event was held on the parking lot with food, kid’s activities, and a few words by the new pastor after receiving a gift basket filled with all kinds of gift cards from local restaurants and activities (these cards were donated by different individuals and groups in the church).
All of these events were well attended and the intentionality of the church leadership as well as both pastors helped not only transition well, but gave a bump in already strong momentum. This scheme worked well due to the nature of a retiring pastor after a long tenure.
One more cool thing that happened, and helped solidify things, was during the fall, the new pastor invited the retired pastor back for a tag team message on Sunday morning, which was also well received.
Praying for any transition your church may be in currently.
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Reflections On My Dad’s Retirement