6 Things You Inherit as a New Pastor at an Established Church

Few will remember your first sermon, but many will tell you it was great. (Getty Images)

Welcome to your new church. Most everyone is excited to meet you. Few will remember your first sermon, but many will tell you it was great.

If your church is going to vote on you, then the percentage of "yes" votes is likely to be high. The reason is simple. The vast majority of church members want to follow a good leader, and they want their church to thrive. But be careful. Don't fall into the trap of thinking every day will be like the first.

You're at an established church, which means there are a few things already in place. During the leadership honeymoon, you'll begin to figure out exactly what you are inheriting. You will want to tweak something. Some of your church members may think you are moving too quickly. Some will put you on a pedestal. Most will go with the flow. The "new" label will drop from your title.

Considerate pastors understand what they are inheriting before people stop introducing them as the new pastor. Here a few examples of the things you inherit as a new pastor of an established church.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

1. You inherit people. Don't miss this. You lead people, not processes. There will be plenty of established processes to discover, but you should know the people first. And if you don't love the people where they are now, then you don't deserve to lead them now or later.

2. You inherit a culture. Some people will be new. Some will be long-standing members. Others will show up your first day and stick with you. Others will leave your first day. The culture of your church, however, is likely deeply rooted. Culture is created by people, but it's also bigger than any one person. No individual—including the pastor—will change the culture quickly.

3. You inherit a staff. It's important to understand the influence of the staff on people and culture. A newer, younger staff is often less influential than a long-tenured staff. And the culture of the staff may be quite different than the culture of the church.

4. You inherit a schedule. At one church I pastored, the second service began at 10:55 a.m. I asked a few people, "Why the extra five minutes?" Every answer was different. No one agreed on why, but everyone agreed on what. The service started at 10:55 a.m.

5. You inherit expectations. If your new church has 400 people, then you have 400 different sets of expectations about you. These expectations are an amalgamation of ideals, previous leaders at your church, personal preferences and favorite pastors and church leaders in culture.

6. You inherit traditions. Some things stick for generations because they are good for generations. Other traditions need to go. Figuring out which traditions are good, bad or ugly can take time. Don't assume your gut reactions to church traditions are correct. Take the time to learn why they exist.

Your new church will welcome you. The first day, first week, first month and perhaps the first year will go well. Use the time to better understand what you are inheriting.

Sam Rainer serves as the president of Church Answers. He is also the lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church and the co-host of the Est.Church podcast. Sam co-founded Rainer Publishing and serves as the president of Revitalize Network. He has a wonderful wife, four fun children, a smart old dog, a dumb young dog and a cat his daughters insisted on keeping.

For the original article, visit churchanswers.com.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.


Help Charisma stay strong for years to come as we report on life in the Spirit. Become an integral part of Charisma’s work by joining Charisma Media Partners. Click here to keep us strong!

Dr. Mark Rutland's

National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)

The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!

FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.

Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.

The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.

Charisma Leader — Serving and empowering church leaders