First Week in a New Church

So, it hasn’t even “officially” been a week since I started out at Epiphany, but it’s been fantastic. I had completely forgotten what it’s like to be the new person on staff. In a lot of ways, it’s like completely starting over–learning a whole new set of administrative systems, meeting people and trying desperately to learn names as quickly as possible, being introduced to whole new flock of people, observing dynamics and relationships–it’s almost like being completely new to the world of youth ministry.

Really, a week is hardly any time at all. And now, for the next four weeks, I’m going to be out of town on youth trips, and it will probably feel almost like starting all over again when I pick back up again in mid-July.

So, reflections on the first week in a new church? Here you go…

  • Ask Questions. I’ve never been too good at this, but I’m learning. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask someone–I’m trying really hard at this one right now, because I know in the past I’ve missed out on a lot just because I was too prideful and self-relient to ask someone for help or clarification. Being in a church that is SO different from any other I have served, this has been my fall-back in the first week.
  • Listen. This has been a big one for me. I want people to know that I really am listening to what they have to say–whether it’s their thoughts or concerns on youth ministry at the church, their excitement about a new journey, or just random tidbits of their stories–you can learn a lot by listening to people and tuning into what they’re saying (verbally and non-verbally). This is a good time to practice those active listening skills.
  • Learn Names. Names are so important–they give identity and they imply value. In ministry, people are the most important resources we have–they are valuable, and they are individuals. Invest in learning names quickly–names of students, names of parents, which students go with which parents, etc. If you don’t remember a person’s name, be honest, and ask! If you’re the newbie, it’s still okay to say, “remind me of your name…” and then repeat it back to them… “thanks, ______.” Learning names shows that you’re there to serve individual people and not just to provide programs.
What are some suggestions you have for someone in their first week of ministry in a new context?
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