The first ninety days of any new ministry assignment are critical ones. At Transforming Church we are committed to helping you navigate them – and all transitions in your ministry – wisely and well
For part one of our series – the five key things to do in your first ninety days, click here.
In this post, we cover the five key conversations to have in your first three months in your new assignment. If you’re in a new ministry assignment, take heart – and take note! If you’re not, file these thoughts away so that you can encourage a friend who is moving into a new chapter of ministry.
By the way, these are useful conversations to have in mind for any stage of ministry!
Your short- and long-term success in your new ministry depends upon other people. The team you are joining was in place before you arrived and will be in place after you leave. Look for ways to fit in, to build a sense of camaraderie and become a part of the team. Don’t go it alone.
You have to work in concert with those around you. That means understanding the personalities and capabilities of those above you, those below you and those beside you. More important, initially, is not what you do, but rather how you do it.
The conversations you have in the first part of your ministry will be crucial. Here are the five types of conversations you should look to have intentionally:
- The Situation Conversation. Your goal with the situation conversation is to gain an understanding of how church leadership sees the state of your new church organization. Is it a turnaround, a start-up, a realignment, or a sustaining-success situation?
- The Expectations Conversation. Your agenda with the expectations conversation will be to clarify and negotiate what you are expected to accomplish. What is expected of you in the short term and the medium term? Be advised that these expectations will undoubtedly be totally unrealistic, and you will need to begin early to recalibrate these expectations to something that makes more sense. Otherwise, you’ll burn yourself out in the first 90 days.
- The Style Conversation. The style conversation is about how you and your staff (if you have one) and you and church volunteer leadership can best interact on an ongoing basis. What is his or her preferred form of communication—face-to-face, e-mail, voice mail, memos? How often are status reports expected? What sorts of decisions does he or she want to be consulted on? Yes, there is church polity that lays out the structure, but within all of these structures is a myriad of individual processes that are shaped by the particular culture in which you find yourself.
- The Resources Conversation. The resources conversation is actually a negotiation for critical resources. What do you need to be successful? These resources are not limited to people and funds. Negotiating for Resources. As you seek commitments for resources, keep these principles of effective negotiation in mind:
- Focus on underlying interests. Probe as deeply as possible to understand the agendas of your church board and any others to whom you will need to apply for resources. What is in it for them?
- Look for mutually beneficial exchanges. Seek resources that both support your leadership’s agenda and advance your own.
- Link resources to results. Highlight the performance benefits that will result if more resources are dedicated to your unit. Create a “menu” laying out what you can achieve (and not achieve) with current resources and what different sized increments would allow you to do.
- The Personal Development Conversation. The personal development conversation is a discussion of how your tenure and performance in this job can contribute to your own growth. This will involve study leave and sabbaticals. Make sure you have already thought carefully about what your needs will be. Get the particulars spelled out in writing so there is no misunderstanding with current and future leadership.
If you commit to having these conversations with intentionality and grace, you are setting yourself up for future success and fruitfulness!