Every spring the Missouri Conference offers Right Start to help pastors who are changing churches make a successful exchange of the baton in the “change-over zone.” The seminar provides nuts and bolts information relating to practical matters including pension, health insurance and Conference moving policy. It also conveys the importance of clergy ethics in the transition process and gives conference leaders and time to share their moving stories.
This year Ozark District Superintendent Lynn Dyke opened the seminar. She is retiring this year and shared that she has moved 10 times during their marriage, and her and her husband still have different approaches. The minute he learns they are moving he takes all their pictures off the walls and starts setting up cardboard boxes around the house, leading to months of chaos. Conversely, she puts the packing off too long, compressing her chaos to a few painfully intense days.
Moving is more difficult when someone has accumulated too much stuff. A helpful tip Dyke shared is to avoid taking along non-essentials, especially the non-tangible non-essentials. “We tend to take along emotional stuff that can really weigh us down and hold us back,” Dyke said.
“One thing I pack to take along with me is guilt.” She explained that as she is packing now, she feels guilt about everything she had hoped to accomplish that she is now leaving behind for Jon Thompson, the incoming District Superintendent.
Guilt is just the beginning of the list of things that pastors shouldn’t take along when they move.
“Sometimes we pack away anger or resentment,” she said. “Then we aren’t as open or engaging when we start in our new ministry setting.”
Packing fear and inadequacy can also be problematic. Packing the expectations of a previous church can be counter-productive; the new appointment may have a different set of expectations.
“We at the Cabinet believe that the place you are going needs you – and only you,” Dyke said.
Pastors who have moved will be returning for a follow-up seminar, along with some lay members from their new congregation, to Right Start Reboot on October 19.