Wednesday, April 22, 2015


I once worked in an office where the cupboards were bare. Every file drawer was empty. There were no addresses of contacts, vendors, or suppliers, no records of previous orders, no warranties on the equipment, and no clues anywhere!  The outgoing person  had dumped everything including the normal "standing" files expected to be there about recent purchases, meetings, budgets, etc.  I had to start from scratch without knowing what items were going to be crucial and had to keep everything to be sure I did not accidently discard some records needed later for a report or submission to another office.   Avoid this headache with those who come after you in a church or parsonage.  Leave a confidential file in the office for the incoming minister.  Hand deliver it if possible and discuss it with them.

Include in it basic church data:
Membership list with contact information
Current committees and their members and chairs
Current budget and financial sheets
Samples of recent newsletters, bulletins, etc.
Any reports on plans, achievements
Policies and Handbooks
Job Descriptions of all staff
Emergency Information
Photo directory
Church history information
Community information & research
Financial information
Long range plans and strategic plans or mission statements
Minutes of meetings

Include in it some relevant data to help them get the feel of the church and the setting:
A "Normal Week" narrative to acclimatize them to the feel of flow
A list of the movers, the shakers, and the challenges (Highly Confidential).
Strategic plans (hits and misses)
Interpersonal "landmines" - family feuds, people who cannot work together, sacred cows, etc.

If there is a parsonage that passes to the incoming pastor and his/her family, prepare a similar notebook with helpful information to help settle the incoming person(s) into the place.

Parsonage Data:
How do things work (lights, doors, stoves, codes, etc.)
When is trash day? Any special rules or customs in the community?
Maps of community
List of nearest grocery stores and hours
List of nearest dry cleaners and hours
List of nearest pharmacy, doctors, hospitals
List of nearest parks, tracks, libraries
Unwritten expectations of the church about the parsonage, its upkeep, etc.
Anything you wish someone had told YOU!
Who to call for repairs?

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