This morning I found a request in my email Inbox. It said something like – “I’m on the Sunday services committee of our small congregation. We’ve just hired a new part-time minister. I’m wondering if you could tell us how Sunday services committees in other congregations have developed relationships with their new ministers.”
Here’s my reply: Hello. Thanks for your question. In some congregations, the Sunday services committee and the part-time minister plan services entirely separately, with no conversation together. That’s not what I recommend.
Instead, I suggest that you initiate a conversation with your minister; ask her/him to tell you what kind of relationship she’d like to have with your committee. If you can, have a planning meeting with him early in the year. Go over the year’s calendar with her, so you can be sure that you have “her” Sundays on your calendar. Look at the holidays, etc.
Tell him about some of the services you are planning, and ask whether he knows of resources to augment what you already have. [For example, there’s an excellent resource at uua.org called “Worship Web” http://www.uua.org/worshipweb ]
Ask whether there are particular hymns that she’d like the congregation to learn/know, and include them on your Sundays, so they become familiar with repeated use over time.
Ask whether there are certain elements to the services that he will use, that he would like you to consider using in your services, too, to give the congregants a consistent experience, week to week.
In short, invite the minister in, share your ideas while you listen to hers/his. Be generous: move over and make room. The worship life of the congregation will be richer for it.