About the Author: I am Joshuah Ellis and I have been working, full time, with the Hub City church of Christ since June 1, 2016. I have never considered myself much of a writer. Perhaps that is why I like the blog format so much. For me, it feels like there is less pressure to be perfect with a blog as opposed to a more formal article In this blog, you will find personal stories, anecdotes, humor and maybe a bit of sarcasm, but the aim of each post will be the same: to encourage, inspire, and challenge the readers to dig deeper and work harder in their service to God. If you would like to offer feedback, leave a comment or contact me here.
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A Letter From the New PreacherThursday, September 15, 2016
Let it be known, that every congregation I have ever worked with has been wonderful about doing all of the things mentioned in this post. In fact, their example inspired me to write this and it is my hope that others can learn from the example they have set in welcoming a new preacher.
So here we are, at the beginning of a new relationship with one another. I am the guy who just moved into town and you are the congregation who just hired a new preacher. Without a doubt, at this point, there are a lot of uncertainties floating around, and it will take some time for us to get to know each other and get used to each other. I can imagine that getting used to a new preacher is difficult. After all, you’re more accustomed to another voice in the pulpit and another man’s way of doing things. Keep in mind also, that it can be difficult on my end too. In order for us to work together successfully to the glory of God, here are a few things I would appreciate if you would consider.
1. Communicate your expectations. Maybe you want a guy to keep regular office hours at the building. Maybe you want him to do 5 sermon series/year. Maybe you want him to organize group evangelism efforts once a month. Trust me. These are things I need to know. If I do not know what your expectations are, then I am doomed to disappoint you and that serves no one. Until we get to know each other better, where I can anticipate the needs of the congregation, please do not be afraid to approach me with these things. To make it easier, I will make an effort to approach you as well and ask you about your expectations.
2. Keep criticism constructive. I want to learn. I want to get better. I want to provide teaching and preaching that moves you to serve God better. Therefore, I appreciate your feedback. However, a constant barrage of criticism can be discouraging in the beginning. If I stand in the pulpit each week with the intention of seeking your approval, it is doubtful you will get the best of what I have to offer. Now, I know that this is mostly my responsibility to make sure that I seek to please God and not man (Galatians 1:10). However, it would really help if, at least at first, you would show me some grace in this area.
3. Be patient with my name learning. Confession: I am not the greatest at remembering people’s names. This is especially inconvenient in my particular profession. Remember though, there are 100 of you and one of me. If I forget your name or call you by the wrong one, just know that it is in no way an indication of disrespect of indifference. The last thing I want to do is not remember your name when I am talking to you and offend or embarrass you in any way. I promise, I’ll get there. Just give me some time.
4. Please. Please. Please. Love my kids. Remember, we just moved here. We took our kids out of their school and away from their friends. We did this knowing that it was the right thing, but they don’t understand that yet. Many of you have family here or have grown up here, but my babies are new too. They may be standoffish. They may say that they want to go home. They may even misbehave at times (gasp!). But, they are good kids and they are trying to find their place in this new situation too. Please, be good to them because that means everything to me.
5. Give me room to be me. I don’t believe for a second that you wanted a preacher with no personality of his own. Sure, I might not be what you’re used to, but given the chance, you might even like me. After all, my mom does. I will never be the man who preceded me in the pulpit. I will never be the preacher you grew up hearing. However, I do have a set of skills and a style unique to me. I mean, you did hire me, remember. Give me the chance to be me. It might turn out better than you anticipated.
I understand that beginning a relationship together is a two-way responsibility. In no way do I expect you to make all the effort. Believe me, I will be working as hard as I can to make sure that we bring out the best in each other and most importantly, that we honor God in our work together. I just thought that these tips might help you gain some perspective.