Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Rector Boot Camp - What Does It Need?

I've been recommending Bob Harris's new book "Entering Wonderland: A Toolkit for Pastors New to a Church" to some priests who are starting their first rectorate (senior pastor position.) I love Bob's techniques for getting to discover the soul of the congregation (see also the book with that name.) It's a challenge when one enters into a new system to get at the stories behind the stories, what the power dynamics are, where the scar tissue is...all of which are things that we need to know to minister well. All of these things are usually not in the parish profile you read when you applied for the position, nor are they usually spoken of when you interview with a search committee or a vestry.

The aforementioned resources are fabulous, but we might benefit from some other practical instruction, I'd wager.

In this diocese, a large one with a lot of parishes in flux right now, we've been talking about having a retreat for clergy who are in their first senior pastor (rector) position, sort of a boot camp to share the stuff we didn't learn in seminary or in other venues.

What would YOU want in such a boot camp? Stuff on how to sort out the financial condition of the parish? Stuff on how to encourage changes in leadership to replace folks who've sort of fossilized themselves into place? Stuff on creative ways to use the space to evangelize and/or raise funds? Stuff on staff management? Stuff on work/family/spiritual balance?

What do we need to know that we wouldn't learn elsewhere? What do you wish that YOU had been taught before you took your first head-of-staff position?