On Boarding is No Longer Optional

 “Employee (pastor, district superintendent, key staff) orientation centers around and exists to help the individual employee (pastor, district superintendent, key staff), but it is the company (local church, district, conference) that ultimately reaps the benefits of this practice.”  Michael Watkins, Author of “The First 90 Days”

In this annual season of pastoral transitions, roughly one-third of pastors move to new churches and congregations receive new pastoral leaders.  While it is part of our practice and history as United Methodists, nevertheless, we have to admit these transitions are difficult for everyone involved.  In fact, these transitions seem to be growing more difficult with complexity due to spousal jobs, housing, children’s schooling, economic concerns, Covid-19, online worship, and racial tensions/protests.  How we help new lead pastors, district superintendents, and key personnel have a strong start is more important than ever.  

Often in those first 90 days, new leaders are trying to get settled into perhaps a new town, a new home, a new office, a new routine, new technology, and maybe even trying to find where to buy a gallon of milk (let alone new doctors, dentist, hair stylist, mechanic, etc.).  Now pile on all that onto also learning a new culture with new staff, new congregation, new leadership team, new sacred cows, and new practices that are historical for the church.  Keep in mind, this is all being done while they are also trying to not step on any unknown landmines AND find the light switches and the right key to all those new doors!

Not only are new appointments difficult, the not getting off to a strong start can be expensive.  Way beyond dollars, the expense comes at a cost of both the new pastoral leader (or district superintendent or key staff) as well as the church (or district or conference) they are serving.  The cost comes in the forms of emotional and spiritual burdens for all involved, loss of personal and congregational fruitfulness, loss of momentum in individual and congregational vitality, and often trust is damaged.  This is why on-boarding is no longer a best practice reserved only for the business world.  It has become a necessary and highly recommended process for new appointments.  “Effective onboarding has a measurable Return on Investment (ROI); not only through decreased turnover costs but by increasing employee productivity (pastoral and leadership effectiveness) and improving customer (congregational and mission field) satisfaction. Furthermore, studies have shown that companies (organizations) that invest in onboarding experience 2.5 times the revenue growth (reaching new people and church vitality) and 1.9 times the profit margin (generosity) of companies (organizations) that don’t.”  cognology.com

If you are a pastor heading to a new church (or perhaps just arrived) or you are a church leader receiving a new pastor, help pave the path for a smoother and healthier transition by providing the UMC recommended on-boarding process.  Many who have participated in this process report this critical investment gave them at least a 90-day jump start and promoted healthier relationships from the start.  If you are interested in on-boarding, visit http://kayk1.sg-host.com/sas-coach-certification/on-boarding/ for more information.