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The Art of the Start

Ministry is an art that emerges from a mysterious alchemy of history, personality, timing and, above all, God's providence—large portions of God's providence.
—Douglas Rumford

During these first six to twelve months, the concrete is still "wet," an elder advised his pastor following the second church board meeting. "This is your chance to make your impression. Soon it will set and be too hard." It sounds like good advice. The new pastor may have an opportunity in the early months to make major changes never again possible.

Yet other wise counselors say, "Don't change anything the first year. Build credibility." Which advice does the newly arrived pastor follow?

As a new pastor I wondered, searching for answers. I decided to contact other pastors who had experienced the awkwardness and opportunities of that inaugural year.

The hare and the tortoise

The first thing I learned is that no one pattern fits every pastor and congregation. Consider these two examples.

Roger Thompson went to Trinity Baptist ...

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