Welcoming Your New Shepherd to Church
Holy Ghost Welcome for a New Pastor
A Holy Ghost welcome for your new Pastor extends beyond words into acts of humble Christian love. Many have arrived because you were searching for a “welcome speech” or “prayer” for a new Pastor. You may think you understand what you should do, but let’s speak about what your new leader truly needs.
The good news is those searching Google desire to bless their new leader. As a Pastor, I say with surety those who did not vote for me were not searching these things! It is always about what the Lord wants and not us, right? I am sure there are some who did not want the Pastor your church selected. Please give these “hold outs” time because there are two (2) outcomes for them. First, after some years and lots of love, they will turn from their disappointment at “not getting their way”. Or, they will disappear having created confusion or to avoid doing so.
A Holy Ghost welcome for your new Pastor is not something which be be personal and loving. It comes from the Holy Ghost and will be delivered at the appropriate time. The greatest welcome you can provide is asking: how can I stand with you? Such questions only come from those submitted to God’s Will. If he is your choice and not God’s, this will lead to exploitation.
Here are three (3) questions your new Shepherd is hoping to hear:
1. “How can I stand with you?” I am not a man given to shedding tears, however, were this said to me, I could hardly hold back from such rejoicing. God’s man is not going to misuse this statement either. Do not confuse “standing with the man of God” with “becoming his puppet”. Your leader needs strong, committed Believers at his side, and not the “anything the Pastor says” crowd. I do not trust “yes Pastor” people in leadership. They are dangerous, although well-meaning.
2. “What immediate concerns do you have?” The pastoral selection process can be brutal. Unfortunately, churches are often either physically and/or spiritually split by the choice of a new leader. Not only is he a new Shepherd, but he also has a family. If he is single, you have made the wrong choice according to Scripture (1st Timothy 3). If a widower, of course there is “grace” but a single man is dangerous. Sure, I understand married preachers are as well. However, a single man has never run a household so, as scripture asks: “how shall he take care of the church of God?” It is simply a “maturity” issue. Further, there will be further confusion because he will probably date and marry someone in the new congregation! Ever witnessed lonely and desperate women fighting to marry the Pastor? Address his concerns as much as you can as a church body. This is also a time to allow those opposed to the new Pastor to have input. Do not shut them out! I didn’t.
3. “Can I pray for you”? Many people are great at asking this question, but their motives are almost never Holy Ghost. Further, there are some who should never be allowed to pray for others. Their lifestyle indicates they are not effective at praying for themselves. You will install new windows in my home when there are no windows in yours? Your new Pastor will be wary of this offer from relative strangers. During this time, he is trying to determine what danger lies ahead. There are people that do not want him, or his family, and are scheming to harm both.
In summary, welcoming a new Shepherd is about much more than ceremonies, installations, and speeches. Before these ever occur pray, become obedient, and stand with him. Do not become an “informer” on others. It will only cause him to look at you differently as well as question your motives. Troublemakers always run to the Pastor first, with information, trying to push a wicked agenda.
How to Pray for a New Pastor
Most of you are searching the Internet for a prayer for your new Pastor. Remember what Jesus said about hypocrites who pray openly to be seen by others. It is my hope this is not your agenda (to be seen). You do not need a perfectly written speech which is being passed off as a “prayer”. What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you? How are you led to pray for the church and others?
Here is the prayer which a God sent Pastor desires (vs. the 80% who sent themselves):
(Begin) “Lord God - thank you for this new shepherd and a new beginning. I know the selection process did not sit well with everyone, but we believe you had your way. Please remain with your preacher and convict his heart towards repentance whenever he gets out of line. Bring those forwards who will properly serve the church and your selection. Endow them with righteous guidance and motives. Let not anyone in our congregation mentally, spiritually, or physically abuse he or his family. Reveal those whose heart is intent on damaging this ministry and your selection. Lord not in your wrath but in your holy mercy.
Lord, like David, Paul, and even Moses, may he always be appropriately transparent with both you and the Saints. We so often put these men up on pedestals which they do not belong on. And when they fall short, we spiritually crucify them. Let not anyone look down on his transparency Lord God, in the name of Jesus, because it is through the power of our testimony that Satan is overcome. May I stand obedient in any righteous and Holy Ghost request the Man of God gives me. In the appropriate moments, allow me to find favor with him to speak truth in love when something is amiss. All these things we ask in the name of your Son Jesus, Amen.” (End)
Any other prayer is unguided, superficial, and will be of non-effect. The overarching theme here is the entire congregation, to include leadership, love one another. I have served with, and known hundreds of these men, if not more. This has provided me an insight you will ever access. God sent Pastors will welcome this prayer.
A narcissist, whom Jesus called a “hireling” that doesn’t care for the sheep, will reject it. The abusive pastoral narcissist may not say anything, at first, but this prayer will mark you. Trust me on this. The good news is, and as I told our congregation when I was new, if I am not what I appear to be, God will expose it.
Sermons for a New Pastoral Installation
Sermons for new pastoral installation will typically be chosen by the speaker invited. Pastoral selection committees often choose a theme while others leave that up to their newly elected leader. It is best to be as hands off with this portion as possible. Sure, you should organize the service, and collaborate with the new leader, but allow them to choose their own speaker. Some denominations may automatically cede this responsibility to a Bishop or Overseer. Others, especially autonomous denominational interests, choose independently of any organized hierarchal structure.
I chose my state convention President and he gracefully agreed. The reason for doing so are both practical and denominational of course. Do not allow any overreach by the pastoral selection committee in this area. It is critical, once the Pastor is elected, that you include him in as much as he is comfortable with. Most of these men are “control freaks” so they want to know everything. This is not hyperbole either! A large church Pastor commented (to me): “he (another Pastor) is doing what you and I could only dream of.” I asked: “and what is that”? He responded: “he is actually pastoring a church because nothing goes on without him knowing about it.” This statement, of course, was naïve but all the same, most I have met desire this level of control.
I will admit early in my pastorate, I was a bit too hands-off. However, this is a great time to show unity, and fidelity to new leadership. You can set the tone, for the next several years of his leadership, with just a bit of collaborative humility.
Appropriate New Pastor Welcomes
Finally, you might want to brainstorm through, and pray of course, about a new Pastor welcome. I am speaking of things beyond the installation service when the “religious crowd" says things they have no intention of honoring. New Pastor welcomes must be viewed as a workflow process more than a singular event.
As was suggested earlier, ask what he and his family need as opposed to assuming. For instance, you may believe you are blessing him by hiring an expensive moving company. What if the idea of someone in his home, going through his things (to pack them) isn’t acceptable? Personally, the thought of someone coming in our home, wrapping our belongings, and placing them on a truck just doesn’t sit well! Or, perhaps, you could rent a mobile “pod”, he can load it, and a company moves it to their new residence.
Don’t forget to welcome his family and the Pastor's wife as well! You are not simply hiring a Pastor; you are hiring a ministry team. I am not suggesting the un-biblical practice of co-pastoring either. However, a Pastor, and his wife, are literally one (1) flesh, one (1) Spirit, and there is no one more important than she. It doesn’t matter what your expertise are either. For instance, a certified public accountant (CPA) could warn against a bad investment and I would listen. However, if my wife said: “I have a good feeling about this”, it would be as though the CPA had never spoken.
Don’t go over-board with religious pleasantries during your welcome speech either. If you do, he will think: “yes, sure, we will see about that”. Your humility will speak more loudly than anything a overdone welcome speech. It is also crucial, obviously, to refrain from speaking things you do not know. For instance, are you sure this new leader is: “God’s anointed” or “God’s concession”? Congregations get the leader they deserve without exception. If not, God is not in control and has failed miserably.
Header Image Courtesy of Petra @ Pixabay