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I’ve pastored Church of the Highlands for 5 ½ years, and am used to having relationships built into my life. I’m established here.
Currently, we’re in the midst of a series here on the blog about pastoral transition as I am in the midst of moving from pastoring Church of the Highlands in Chattanooga to Brushy Creek Baptist Church in Taylors, SC (suburban Greenville).
As a new pastor in a new community, how can I build relationships with people? If you are new to a church or community, how can you build relationships with others? Here are five strategies:
Pray and evangelize with people.
Few things draw you closer to others than prayer and evangelism. I’ve already scheduled pray gatherings and evangelistic outings with the church staff so we can get to know one another and seek the Lord.
For the overall church, we will have “prayer and listening” gatherings. Plus, we will pursue the one mile mission strategy to reach people near the church.
During these sorts of prayer and evangelistic times, you end up conversing and getting to know people better. It is biblical, relational, and strategic.
Schedule tons of meetings with people to get to know them.
Stack the calendar with intentional times to meet with people. Meet with older and younger people. Meet with staff members and laypeople. Spend time with people!
In addition to formal meetings with people, have informal and/or impromptu ones, too.
I’m hoping to just randomly go on social media and say to people, “Let’s go to ___ restaurant at ___ time.” This will be a fun way to hang out with people.
Also, one of the ways my family and I have built relationships here in Chattanooga is going out to restaurants or coffee shops after church services or events, and just saying, “You want to hang out somewhere?” These informal times are important for building relationships.
Get to the church early and leave late, particularly on Sundays and Wednesdays.
Church members notice when pastors hurry to get out of there. It’s your job to minister to people. Spend time with them by being there early and late.
Have people over to your home.
One of the qualifications of an elder is to be hospitable. Part of hospitality is hosting people at your home. My wife and I just signed a lease on a house we will rent for a year, so we can get to know the area before we buy. I hope we can use this house to minister to people!
These are just a few relationship-building strategies. Can you think of some more? Let me know about them in the comment section below.