The first month of a new ministry is very important. It is important for both you and the congregation. During this first month, you will be developing habits and routines which you will continue to use for a long time. You are beginning to set the precedent for what people can expect from you. The congregation will use these first four weeks to watch how you interact and listen to how you present yourself. The are interested in what you will bring to the ministry. Most of these people, even some of those who met you prior to being hired, have not had much time to meet you and ask you questions.
No two ministers will have the same first month at a new ministry. You might preach every week or not at all. You might not even be on stage during this month. You might teach multiple classes or you might be able to sit in and observe. You might have a death in the congregation or maybe its a wedding. You might start in the middle of summer or the middle of winter. Despite the fact that every start to a ministry is so vastly different, I believe there are some things that every minister needs to accomplish during this time.
Tips for Month #1:
1. Learn names
This goes for those who are good at remembering names and those who forget ten seconds after you are told. Knowing the name of a student or adult makes it much easier to start conversations. Plus everyone likes to know that you care enough to learn their name.
2. Implement office hours & your day off
As you are starting your new ministry, you are forming new habits and routines. One of those routines needs to be setting up, and following through with, the hours you will spend in the office and what day you will be staying away from the office. There is plenty of “work” to be done at the beginning of a ministry and you will leave many days knowing there is much more you can do. Do not let the feeling that you need to prove yourself keep you from setting up limitations.
3. Plan informal gatherings with youth
You need to get to know the students, and that will not completely happen in the classroom setting. So plan some time to hang out with them away from church. You can plan a day in the park, go out to lunch, plan a game night or just plan a day to hang out at someone’s house. Do not use this time to give a devotional or plan upcoming events, just spend time talking and listening.
4. Get to know the adults (parents, youth coaches, elders...)
Aside from the students you will be ministering to, you need to learn more about the adults you will be working with. Meet for lunch or stop by their house (call beforehand). Ask a few questions about their family. Learn about their passions and what drives them. Share your heart for ministry.