Transition Preparation Document for First UMC El Dorado

One month from today, I will begin serving as pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado. Last week, I had the opportunity to spend time with some of the key leaders and staff from the church. I shared a document with everyone that I met outlined some of my personal priorities as well as top five objectives for the first six months and a few of the questions that I will be asking as I arrive. Here is what I shared:

Personal Priorities and Dates

  • June 12 – Expecting the birth of our second child
  • June 25 – Move into parsonage
  • Care for self and family

Top Five – First Six Months

  • Be a good guest and allow the congregation to host
  • Love the people
  • Learn the history and culture of the congregation
  • Learn the history and culture of the community
  • Help discern an appropriate vision

Questions – First Six Months

  • Who are you as a congregation?
  • How did the congregation get to where it is today?
  • Where do challenges and opportunities exist?
  • What has changed the most / least since you joined the church?
  • When have you been most proud to be connected with this church?
  • What means the most to you about this church?
  • Why does this church matter to people?
  • What do you sense God is doing right now?

Contact Information

Questions for a Congregation from a Newly Appointed Pastor in the #UMC

Question mark

Question mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am preparing to transition to a new appointment beginning July 1. One of the things that I have learned from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership is that good leaders ask the right questions. I have been working on a list of questions that I believe will be helpful in getting started well at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado.

Ministries

  • How is the church engaging the community?
  • What can you tell me about the United Methodist Men?
  • What can you tell me about the United Methodist Women?
  • How would the church say that they have grown in the past year?
  • What is going on during the week?
  • What is the congregation’s favorite way of learning? Teaching, book study, etc.
Congregation
  • How are people growing in their faith outside of worship?
  • Who are the key influencers in the congregation?
  • Who are the people / families that will do whatever it takes at the church?
  • Who might peer churches be for support, encouragement and benchmarking?
  • Who are the staff and leaders that are great Bible study / small group leaders?
Mission and Vision
  • In what ways do the vision and purpose guide what the church does?
  • How are the vision and purpose communicated to the staff and congregation?
  • What is the vision and purpose of the church?
Facility
  • For the facility, what needs regular maintenance?
  • For the facility, what needs to be repaired?
  • For the facility, what needs to be replaced?
  • What is the state of the facility?
Pastor’s Role
  • How might can I best serve the church?
  • What are some ways to get congregational buy in?
  • What are some ideas for “quick wins” that might be possible?
  • What are things that I might do that have never been done before?
  • What facts or realities about me or my ministry can I share that might be helpful for the congregation?
  • What are the die hard principles or practices that if I change them will get me tarred and feathered?
Connection
  • What efforts exist to close the back door? (Keep people engaged who might otherwise leave)
  • What are the biggest barriers to people coming in the door?
  • What is being done to bring in new members?
  • What kind of follow up for first time visitors happens?
  • What new networks of people can I engage and develop?
Finance
  • How does the budget break out between compensation, operations, mission and ministry?
  • Is the budget growing?
  • Is the church paying its apportionments in full?
Community
  • Where do people gather for coffee or breakfast in town?
  • What opportunities for mission in the community exist?

What other questions would you add to this list?

Closing My Time with Resurrection Online

Yesterday, I led a workshop at Leadership Institute – Worship Online: What We’ve Learned in Three Years. Having transitioned my job responsibility to serve as Associate Pastor at Resurrection West on August 15, this was my final official role with Resurrection Online. You can see the presentation here:

I felt great about the presentation. I was able to share the thought, theological reflection and strategic decisions that had been made over the past three years that culminated in the decision to understand Resurrection Online as a worship venue of our Leawood campus and not as a campus where people would go to worship, grow, give, serve and find community. My friend Ben Simpson, asked if I would guest post about what I learned as Pastor of Resurrection Online. I hope to write this post soon, so to read some great writing (and my guest post at some time in the future, I commend http://www.benjaminasimpson.com to you.

It was a good finale. With the completion of that workshop, I feel that I was able to end well and close my time with Resurrection Online.

Labor Day 2011

Although today is the quintessential end of summer, I can’t really recall it having felt like that to me. Growing up, I was usually in school before Labor Day and this was really the end of summer. It may have been a chance to have a picnic or cook out in the backyard – kind of a last hurrah before the fall was to begin in earnest.

This year I have made a big transition to Resurrection West a couple weeks ago, so there isn’t much for me that is hinging on this date. It is looking like a day to relax a bit and spend time with a family. Although, I am not sure that we will be doing any laboring…

How will you spend Labor Day 2011?

Questions about Resurrection Online (3 of 3)

Why are you leaving Resurrection Online?

Over the past three years a stable worship platform has been created and the significant theological reflection have been completed. I have been able to play a significant role in shaping the framework and future direction for Resurrection Online. One of my gifts is to help clarify a direction and next steps for ministry. I feel that I have been able to see this accomplished for Resurrection Online and look forward to see where the ministry will go from here.

Who will lead Resurrection Online?

Travis Morgan will be moving from a staff position at Resurrection West to lead the Partner Church project and Resurrection Online. The Partner Church project is preparing to move from a planning to pilot phase and Travis will be able to provide leadership and guidance during this critical transition. Travis is a gifted leader who will be able to provide strategic direction and move the vision for Resurrection Online forward. Travis’ gifts and skills will help Resurrection Online to take the next step.

What is the future direction of Resurrection Online?

The focus will be on connecting people in person instead of building community and discipleship opportunities specifically for those that worship online. The next steps for Resurrection Online are to:

  1. Continue an excellent online worship experience
  2. Increase the number of people that are worshiping online
  3. Increase the people who connect in person as a result of connection with Resurrection Online.

What will happen to online congregants who have connected with you?

As with any pastoral transition, I will seek to transition the connection of those that worship online to Travis Morgan as the next leader of Resurrection Online and when possible to a local church.

Questions about Resurrection West (2 of 3)

Why are you going to Resurrection West?

Resurrection West has experienced steadily increasing worship attendance and participation and this growth is anticipated to accelerate with the move in to a new building in the fall. These circumstances have created the need for an additional pastor to serve the congregation.

What are you looking forward to at Resurrection West?

I am excited to be involved in pastoral leadership in ways that have not been possible at Resurrection Online, including leading worship, teaching, offering in person care and guidance. This role will provide an excellent opportunity for me to stretch and grow in ways that will be valuable in my continued pastoral and spiritual formation. Most of all, I want to serve where I am most needed and there is a clear need for an additional pastor at Resurrection West.

Transition to Resurrection West (1 of 3)

I am going to serve as an associate pastor at Resurrection West beginning August 15. I have enjoyed being part of Resurrection Online for the past few years. I am excited to be involved in pastoral leadership at Resurrection West, including leading worship, teaching, offering in person care and guidance. This role will provide an excellent opportunity for me to stretch and grow in ways that will be valuable in my continued pastoral and spiritual formation.

Travis Morgan will be moving from a staff position at Resurrection West to lead the Partner Church project and Resurrection Online. Travis is a gifted leader who will be able to provide strategic direction and move the vision for Resurrection Online forward. There will be some immediate changes and the transition will be completed in the months ahead. Will you please let me know if you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, feelings or opinions about this transition?