Pastor Transition Tips: Welcoming Your New Pastor


Sigh of relief. The search is over, and you have a new pastor starting in a couple of weeks. The new pastor has just made an offer on a house and is set to move to your city next week. Your job is finished until he walks through the door and you hand him the Church Staff Employee Handbook, right? Nope!

If you’ve ever moved your family to a new city to start a new job, you know how overwhelming it can feel. From finding a new home to enrolling the kids into school, there is a long list of things that can be stressful for the new pastor’s family.

Here are a few tips from our team on ways you can celebrate and greet your new hire to ensure they feel loved and welcome in your new church community.

Before your candidate arrives, send him or her these suggestions so they can best plan their moving day/weekend:

• Map (or links) to local necessities - Target, Walgreens, Grocery, etc…

• Recommended doctors and pediatricians

• Local emergency numbers - Hospitals, Poison Control, etc…

• Trusted service providers – Car Mechanic, Cleaning service, etc…

• Professionals that are church members – dentists, doctors, hairstyles, personal trainers, lawyers, etc.

• Trusted realtors or advice on neighborhoods if housing is not provided

• Suggested date night locations & trusted sitters

Use your staff as your resource for the above lists. There is probably already a wealth of answers in your church office. 

When the candidate arrives at their new home, here are few suggested items to bring by on moving day:

• Box of household goods for the family to open when they first arrive at their new home:

o Toilet paper

o Paper towels

o Clorox wipes

o A gift certificate to a local pizza place

o Age appropriate toy for kids

o A book about the area

o Some snacks for while they unpack

• Hot meal or two

• Gift card(s) for favorite local restaurants

A few other suggestions for a successful pastor transition:

• Before they walk through the doors on that first Sunday or Monday, what are the names and faces in the congregation the new pastor should know?

• Plan a Transition or Welcoming Sunday ceremony for the new pastor and his or her family? Perhaps you have a meal or dessert after a Sunday service or you plan a separate gathering during the week. Be sure to inform the pastor and his or her family of the plan and schedule ahead of time so that they can prepare.

• Consider providing your new pastor a signing bonus to add in their moving expenses and to ease any financial burden they may experience during the move. We have seen them as small as $3,000 and as big as $50,000.  We have also seen a church give a person $100,000 zero percent loan to purchase a house then $20,000 of the loan is forgiven for each year so that in five years, the pastor doesn't owe anything back to the church. This kind of bonus will depend on your church’s financial ability and what you feel the Lord is calling you to do for your new pastor.

What else would you add to this list to welcome your new pastor and ensure a smooth pastor transition?