Friday, April 20, 2012
How to Become the Local Pastor [when you're not]
1. Root for the local teams. Rooting for the Steelers is borderline immoral wherever you live, but especially if you have accepted a call to move from Pennsylvania to some other area of the country. You have a new hometown now. With Ruth, you must be willing to say "your people will be my people; your team, my team." Interestingly here in my [new] home, professional sports are secondary to college and even high school. Be sensitive to pick up on things like that and adapt.
2. Get a local phone number. Nothing reinforces the impression of your being an outsider like an out-of-state area code preceding every call you make in an attempt to overcome your outsider status and build local relationships. Besides, it's an excuse to upgrade to a smarter phone [more on that in a future post] and switch networks if necessary to get optimal coverage in your new territory [I got no reception in several spots of our church property with my original carrier - BIG PROBLEM!].
3. Never refer to your old location as home. It is not. You are home where you are now. So stop calling the old place home - especially publicly and especially from the pulpit! My former location was "my old house"; the "place where I used to live"; the "town where my parents live" or "raised me"; "where we came from"; anything but home. When you return there for family visits and vacations, you are going on a trip to see family. You are not going home. You are home now. Adjust your heart and adjust your vocabulary accordingly.