15 Ways to Welcome New Church Staff

In a recent Twitter poll, I asked folks to tell me ways to welcome new church staff when they arrive on the field. Maybe one of these ways will help your church do the same for new staff (or perhaps, you’ll want to give a surprise “re-welcome” for current staff):

  1. Plan on old-fashioned “pounding.”  Everyone brings food and supplies to stock the family pantry with “pounds” of stuff (apparently from a tradition of giving a pound of flour, sugar, etc.). That way, the family has food from day one.
  2. Pay the first two months’ mortgage.  Taking this step helps the family use funds needed for other costs such as turning on the electricity, etc. Some churches go much further in even providing the down payment for a home.
  3. Give a one-month paid sabbatical in between positions. With a month of salary before cranking up the work, the staff member and his family have time to get moved, settled, rested, etc.
  4. Provide funds for “start up” costs. Costs like electricity, cable, water, deposits, etc., add up quickly. Giving $500-$1000 for these costs will be appreciated.
  5. Give gift cards to local restaurants. Not only will the family then have meals taken care of during the transition, but they’ll also get to know places and people in the community.
  6. Purchase a family gym membership. Particularly if the staff family includes children, this gift will pay dividends. The family can exercise and develop friendships with others at the same time.
  7. Pay for moving expenses. You’d think this benefit is automatic, but not always. To ask a family to pay their own moving expenses is to start the church leader/congregation relationship on the wrong foot. 
  8. Have a team ready to help unpack boxes. Some folks would prefer to unpack their own stuff, but others would welcome the help. Have the team there either way. There is always something they can do.
  9. Provide childcare during the first days of the move. It’s difficult to settle into a home while also taking care of little ones. Use some of your background-checked childcare workers to assist the new staff family.
  10. Pay for a subscription to the local newspaper. The format might be hard copy or electronic, but cost is still involved. Help staff to get to know the community by providing this news source.
  11. Everyone wear nametags for at least one month. If you read this blog regularly, you know I think folks ought to wear nametags every week; but, doing so at least one month would help the new staff member get to know you. 
  12. Cover the cost of detailing and tuning the family’s cars. A move with luggage-stuffed automobiles can wreak havoc on a car. Once the move is over, pay to have the cars cleaned and tuned.
  13. Provide a hard copy or electronic copy of updated pictures of every church family. Some churches give the most recent church pictorial directory, but it’s so old is practically useless. Whatever you give, make it current!
  14. Provide a list of local businesses and their websites. Save the new staff member and family the time of finding dry cleaners, banks, grocery stores, drug stores, hospitals, etc.
  15. Strategically plan “welcome activities” for at least one year. The first weeks of welcome are usually great, but the hard work of transition is usually yet to come. Plans to welcome your new staff member throughout the year will help.    

What ways would you add to this list?


  • David nies-berger says:

    Awesome list. I particularly like the name tag idea as an SOP. From a lay persons stand point I would say offer a list of skilled tradesmen, helps, and vetted child care providers within the church so after the initial rush of “how can we helps ” the staff has something they can refer to better than memory and a 30 second chat. Id also encourage lay leaders or helps to follow up regularly with the staff member. This way the offer for help stays on the table and the offerer doesn’t mistake a forgotten offer for a rejected offer.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Thanks, David, for your thoughts.

  • John Rothra says:

    While these approaches have merit, I believe they fall short of truly helping a new pastor (or other staff member) become part of the community and church (especially if he is introverted). I would add various members and leaders spending months (yes, months) inviting the new staff member and his family over for meals, taking him to visit members, and taking him around the community introducing him to people. Welcome him in like one would welcome in a newly adopted child. The objective is to help him develop relationships, which I’m afraid gift cards, poundings, and printed lists do not accomplish. Don’t leave him on his own to try to force himself on a community he does not know, but bring him into the fold (BTW, I’ll be posting about this today, so your post is quite timely).

  • clawlessjr says:

    Thanks, John. We don’t disagree on the importance of facilitating relationship-building.

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