During the first 100 days on a new job, the way an individual manages time and establishes priorities communicates the things he considers most important. For a revitalization leader, a planter or replanter, those first 100 days may be even more critical. We not only are modeling what’s important to others, but we also are disciplining ourselves to cultivate the practices we want to see in the life of our churches.
I received a call today to become the Revitalization Pastor of Tusculum Hills Baptist Church, a historic congregation serving the needs of a South Nashville neighborhood. The church is led by Senior Pastor Paul Gunn and my role is to come alongside him to help rebuild the Sunday school, develop an outreach strategy and give leadership to the pastoral care ministries of the church.
Tusculum Hills ran over 1,300 just 20 years ago in two worship services and one large, well-organized Sunday school. Today, just over 100 people were gathered for worship. Like any church planter, replanter or revitalizing leader, the needs are so numerous, it’s hard to know what to do first.
The disciplines I cultivated as a church planter nearly 35 years ago still make good sense to me as I map out my first 100 days. As I share them in various categories below, I’m following the counsel of putting the most important things on the list first. That way, they aren’t left out by the temptation to do good things, but not the best things.
If you are already in your place of service, one or two of these items may still make good sense for you as you prepare to enter a new season of ministry this fall. If you are about to step into a new role, as I am, tweak this list to fit your context and gifts. We all have an incredibly demanding to-do list and a limited amount of time to accomplish those are most-important things. Here’s what I plan to do in my first 100 days.
- Pray for an hour a day specifically for the revitalization of the church.
- Fast one to two days a week during the first 100 days to remind me of the critical need to depend on God to revitalize the church.
- Prayerwalk every classroom in the church as I pray for each Bible study leader and the names of those on class rolls.
- Pray through the church directory with my wife.
- As people drop by my office to welcome the new minister, have a question for them about their greatest hope for our church, then pray with them for the revitalization hope they’ve just expressed.
- Make 90 ministry visits in the first 90 days.
- Contact the funeral directors in the area and let them know of my availability to help families who may not have a church when a loved one dies.
- Contact the first responders in the area and let them know of our care, concern and appreciation for them.
- Make an appointment to meet the hospital chaplain to learn about current COVID protocols for hospital visitors and any other ways we could serve the community together.
- Send a card to the principal of the two schools near the church and let them know of our willingness to respond to needs or be a resource when needed.
Bible study groups and outreach
- Visit every adult Bible study group, showing an interest in the teacher and each member.
- Enlist care group leaders in every adult Bible study class (first 30 days).
- Enlist an outreach leader in every adult Bible study class (first 60 days).
- Make improvements to the church website so it supports our Bible study and outreach ministry.
Staff care (if others are on the team with you)
- Meet with everyone in first week and start learning their stories. Get birthday and other information so you can encourage them appropriately and transfer it to your day planner.
- Ask each member of the staff about their hopes and ideas for revitalization and listen with the skills of a counselor as they share.
Getting to know the church Leaders
- Take a church leader with you on as many of the ministry visits as possible. Get to know this person, their hopes for the church, and show them how to care for others and share the gospel as you make several of those “90 in 90” ministry visits.
- Meet the Associational Mission Strategist (if you don’t already have a relationship with him).
- Discover the resources available through the state convention for revitalizers, replanters and planters.
- Get a demographic profile from either your association or state convention and let someone in those offices walk through it with you.
When I planted a church out West, I knocked on doors in the neighborhood and got nowhere meeting people. I remembered a few natural connecting points I had, based on experiences in past. I attended and later volunteered at a grief-recovery support group in our area. I volunteered as a hospital chaplain. I coached my son’s Little League teams. I went to yard sales in the neighborhood I was trying to reach and bought anything for a dollar that would give me the chance to strike up a conversation with the homeowner.
As you settle into a new ministry setting or season, consider ways to make relational connections with those in the traffic patterns of your life. Get to know these people by asking about their day. Next time you see them, call them by name and ask them about the community. Each time you see them, make it a point to call them by name and be extra kind. One day you’ll walk in, and they may open up and share their story with you.
- The barista at the local coffee shop
- The librarian
- The bank teller
- The employees at the grocery store
- Other store clerks
- The person who cuts your hair
Remember to practice clergy self-care
- Maintain the spiritual disciplines of Scripture reading, journaling and prayer.
- Set aside time for my wife and family. (Honor your off day and evenings at home.)
- Exercise at least three days a week.
- Maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.
- Connect with another pastor in a meaningful way. We need each other!
Published August 2, 2022