One of our most productive innovations in the way we appoint pastors has been our First 90 Days program. Every full time pastor who moves is asked to devise a First 90 Days plan, stating the goals and activity during the first 90 days. The District Superintendent and pastor work with the lay leadership to follow the plan and to be sure that every pastor gets off to a good start. We have not had a single pastor, who followed the First 90 Days plan, to have difficulty in making the transition into a new congregation. Daniel Pope is one of the pastors whom I asked to report regularly on his First 90 Days. I wanted to share Daniel’s excellent work with you. - Will Willimon
My First 90 Days plan actually began about 30 days prior to moving to Crossville. With the belief that much can be communicated and gained through the transitional time of the 30 days leading up to the move and the 30 days immediately following the move, I got the transition underway early. First I met with the PPRC to listen to their hopes and concerns and to allow them to see my heart and begin to catch my spirit. One of my leaders is a teacher at the local high school, so he introduced me around to the administration, support staff, teachers, and coaches. Then I had a series of individual meetings with key leaders and their spouses (admin. Board chair, finance committee chair, choir director, and youth minister). I requested data on the church (i.e. budget, calendar, charge conference reports, pictorial directory, homebound list, etc.) All of this happened before June 1st.
In the week prior to moving day, I made a personal contact by phone with each family listed in the pictorial directory to express my excitement about and thankfulness for the opportunity to be their pastor. As well, I sent a “listening” survey letter to each family in the pictorial directory asking: 1) What do you love about your church?; and, 2) What are your dreams for your church? This effort to make personal contact and to listen to the people seemed to be well received and appreciated.
The people of Crossville First offered to come and move me here from Oneonta. I accepted as I perceived that this gave them a “share” in me. They graciously helped me move in and get settled, and we had a “meet and greet” reception in the fellowship hall that evening. I even made an in-home visit to a prospect that evening with one of my congregants. On June 16th, the day after moving day, I was able to visit 20 homes in my neighborhood to introduce myself.
We had a great first Sunday together, a combined worship service with sermon titled “Something Worth Living For.” I invited everyone to the parsonage that night for fellowship, conversation, and vision casting (we did that each of the 1st two Sundays - June 19th and 26th). God’s vision is a family systems approach where every age group has activities with biblical foundations each Sunday and Wednesday. The people of Crossville have really stepped up to the challenge with new Sunday schools for children formed and a children’s choir ministry to begin on Aug. 17th, the launch for Wednesday night ministries for the new school year.
I began meeting weekly with the youth minister for guidance and support. The PPR met June 27th. We discussed the role of the PPR, how we will work best together, had both the spiritual diagnosis conversation and the expectations conversation, and completed a 6 month review of the youth minister. Administrative Board met on June 29th, and I had the expectations conversation again with the leadership. This included being 100% in our tithe to the District. We caught up our May tithe shortfall immediately afterward.
On July 1st, I invited my neighborhood to a block party at the parsonage. I visited 67 homes to hand out invitations. I rented an inflatable slip-n-slide, the church brought homemade ice cream, and we cooked hot dogs. We had about 60 people attend (30 church members and 30 neighbors). It was fun, and I got to meet many of my neighbors. We had about 6 first time guests the next morning in worship.I’ve made about 25 in-home visits, numerous calls, and sent many cards thus far. I’ve visited about 12 local businesses meeting people in their places of work. We are having a “Christmas in July” celebration on July 31st. As well, we are planning some outreach events. I really have to give God all the glory and give the people of Crossville First credit for their enthusiastic support. We expect to see His glory through and among us in the present and future!
Crossville First UMC