Dear Brothers and Sisters at Westview Church:
This is my third letter to you, leading into life and ministry together. In the first I introduced myself and my family. In the second I summarized the nature of transitional ministry and some classic stages. In this letter I will answer some questions you may have. I will try to emulate the Heidelberg Catechism with its snappy questions and answers.
Question: Most transitional pastors serve full time. What is the arrangement with you?
Answer: In my prior transitional settings I have served full time. However, the initial arrangement is a 2/3’s pace (26-30 hours/week). I suggested this for three reasons:
- It will ease Westview’s financial challenge while fulfilling the severance with Pastor Pete.
- After moving six times in eight years, Ruth and I just settled in Holland. We plan to continue living there, where I can work at home: reading, prayer, sermon prep, communication via phone and email. I will drive in two days/week in addition to Sundays.
- I expect I can offer full transitional leadership needed at this pace.
Question: Westview is a sizable church. It’s had one, sometimes two full-time pastors. How can you possibly cover all the bases serving 2/3’s time?
Answer: I expect I can provide full pastoral leadership because of a lighter preaching pace. First, Westview now has one preaching worship service per Sunday, rather than two. The plan is for me to preach three Sundays/month and enjoy guest preachers monthly. Plus, I can draw from messages I have preached previously. An entirely new message may take 10-12 hours to prepare; building on a prior message may require about five hours. In addition I will be sharing pastoral care with others. While my pace may be 2/3’s, I will be devoting all of my experience, insights, and dedication to help build up Westview. The primary key is building good relationships, addressing issues and wise leadership.
Question: When will you start your ministry with us?
Answer: My full role begins January 1. However, since the transitional needs exist now, I have been asked to take some beginning steps already now. I am calling this getting a running start. For example, I have settled in to the pastor’s study. I have also reached out to six pastors who have connections and insight about Westview and recent developments.
Question: How can we contact you?
Answer: Probably the best way to contact me is via email: [email protected]. I check it throughout the day. You can also reach me at the Westview Church phone number.
Question: When will we form a Pastor Search Team to start looking for our next pastor?
Answer: This will require wisdom. Ultimately the council will seek to discern and decide, having a pulse of the congregation. It is important to balance two considerations. First, wait until the church has addressed key issues and is in a healthy place to attract a new pastor. Second, the pastor search process takes time; not every issue must be fully resolved to start. Some issues can be worked on while the search is beginning.
Question: What transitional issues do you expect will be addressed?
Answer: From what I’ve heard so far, I would expect we’ll address lines of communication, clarifying the church’s organizational structure (roles and who is accountable to whom), ensuring needed support of staff, reconciliation where relationships may be frayed, and building trust that is so important for God’s people to serve shoulder to shoulder.
I hope this answers many of your initial questions. Please pray for me as I get a running start in ministry among you- and for the elders and deacons as they give leadership to Westview during this time of transition.
Warmly yours in Christ, Pastor Neil