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Successful Pastoral Onboarding

An employee onboarding process is the systematic and clear transformation of a promising new hire into a long-term healthy staff fit. By intentionally planning the onboarding process, churches give new staff the relationships, information, and tools they need to be comfortable and confident enough to do outstanding work. There is a lot to say about the first day, week, month, and 90 days. I’d highly recommend reading The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins or using a consultant like Chemistry Staffing to assist in a full plan. There are a lot of resources available for those looking to knock this out of the park!

I want to get very practical in offering a tool I’d suggest may be one of the most important priorities for onboarding well within the local church. You can fumble setting up the office, getting passwords organized, and even making a great first-day impression, but missing on this can set back new employees within church months at best and at worst in ways that could sabotage them from ever really feeling an integrated part of the community.

Accelerated Relational Network Worksheet

Ministry is highly relational and necessarily relationships take time. In an effort to accelerate learning, there are key relationships to initiate right away. These early conversations can go a long way in building trust, helping you gain perspective, and even secure a few early wins as you start in your new role.


Write a list of people who you will intentionally reach out to in your first few weeks. Set up lunch, coffee, office visits, or extended phone calls. Ask your supervisor who a few people are they recommend in each category:

Staff: Volunteers: Congregation:

__________ __________ __________

__________ __________ __________

__________ __________ __________

__________ __________ __________

__________ __________ __________


Avoid any kind of early promises or extensive vision casting, this is a unique window of time you have as the “new person” to sit down and hear someone’s story and what they think of the church. Let them help define reality for you. The aim is a relation conversation, not an interrogation! You may only get through a few of these and certainly customize them for your context:

- Why did you join this church? What drew you to this church? (Either for a staff member or volunteer and now looking for overlap in stories)

- How has the church helped you grow in your faith?

- If you had to describe this church to a friend you are inviting, what would you say? What are you proud of? What do you wish was better?

- Share with me a challenging past season in the church? How was it navigated?

- How has the area I was hired to oversee been successful in the past? No promises, but from your perspective, what does success for me look like in the next 9-12 months?

- What stories do you hear repeated a lot that would be helpful for me to know?

Interested in more? You can download additional onboarding resources here or schedule time with me here.


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