March 27, 2010

Preparing the Congregation for the Next Parsonage Family

Although you may already know that you are not moving, this is for those who do. Just as we grieve (or sometimes celebrate) leaving a church. There will always be some people who will grieve your leaving. Whether or not the church folk grieve your spouse leaving, but that doesn't mean they won't miss you and your family.

So if you are moving, how can you be a blessing for the next parsonage family? One thing you can do is talk about how you feel to a trusted friend. You need a safe place to process your feelings too. The next thing you can do is contact (when appropriate) the next spouse and make arrangements to show the parsonage. One friend I know even planted flowers in the yard especially for the next spouse. Giving the next spouse something special is a wonderful gesture. Of course, the next spouse will have feelings about leaving his/her church behind, so be patient. You can also pray for the next family and ask folks at church to pray for them as well.

I'm sure there are lots of other ways to prepare for the move, but pray to be a blessing and not a curse for the next family.

Are there other ways you've experienced? This is surely one way we can help each other. We are all in this together.



  1. It is so important to do a good job leaving! Deep down, I use to want the church to really miss my family when we left. But this past move we experienced moving to a church where the former pastor's family did a really terrible job leaving. They were constantly contacting friends at the church. The former pastor would call church members and ask how my husband was doing. Even worse, before he left he went to the houses of people who had left the church while he was the pastor and requested that, if they were going to come back to the church, would they please do so before the pastoral transition so that he wouldn't be embarrassed. He nurtured within his "loyalist" congregation members a fear that the next pastor would not watch over their souls nearly so well as he had. On and on... It has not been fun to follow them. And it has NOT been good for the church. I do not want my pride and desire to be loved ever, ever to inhibit the work of the kingdom of God in the way this surely well-meaning former pastor and his family have done.

  2. Kathy,
    Thank you again for this wonderful forum to throw out ideas and express REAL feelings...

    My husband and I attempted to apply our version of the Golden Rule... while treating each appointment we served as unique.

    We were usually able to invite the new pastor/spouse and/or family over for dinner at the parsonage, suggested they measure for furniture, look around, ask questions. We chose NOT to discuss specific people in the congregation. I see it kinda like a school teacher and student...
    you know... there can be lots of reasons for an A with one teacher and an F with another!
    While we lived in a parsonage, we were very respectful of the property, planted bulbs, and knew we were only the stewards. Andrew and I both believed in the SCOUT MOTTO: "Leave a place better than you found it". Andrew would challenge the churches to evaluate the condition of the living space offered to their clergy families. He would ask... "Is this house good enough for your family to live in...If not, then don't ask me to move mine in here!l" They knew he was very firm but loving about it. As his spouse, I loved knowing he would never ask me to move into a place that was unacceptable. (unsafe, unclean, toxic, filthy,, etc) When the place needed improvements or repairs, Andrew was the first one to jump in and help and support and encourage the members and/or workers.
    I loved that about him! (and about a zillion other things!)
    Building relationships in the community is another way to help... and not just with other Methodists. It helps give a sense of belonging to a new area. Then when a new pastor arrives, the community is expecting them also!

    I always liked to leave some practical items in the parsonage when we moved:
    LIGHT BULBS IN ALL THE FIXTURES with a few extras
    (Good excuse to get new ones, they could shower whenever without finding the "right" box and unpacking)
    BOTTLED WATER in the Refrigerator
    NEIGHBORS with phone numbers
    LIST OF PROVIDERS for repairs, services, etc.

    I have actually wanted to come up with a suggested list to have at each parsonage... well...I actually wanted to suggest each charge have a TRANSITION TEAM... no, NOT the PPRC, TRUSTEES, etc.
    A separate group of people that can be mature, objective, compassionate,... well... you know GOLDEN RULERS... they would see that the transitions for both families... arriving and departing, were filled with LOVE, KINDNESS, FUN, SUPPORT, etc. This group would ask both families...
    And then do what each family wants... if it's privacy during the move, give it!
    If it's a big moving in party with PIZZA and COKES, give that!
    And then stand with them through the first couple months... support them with prayers, visits, meals with members, etc.

    Now... just these small suggestions I believe would help... ease anxiety, fear, conflicting emotions, and would promote anticipation of all the new blessings that are to come... for both families transitioning!
    It's really pretty basic and simple, isn't it... the good ole GOLDEN RULE... seems to work for me every time I apply it!