Resource Library

Pastoral Transitions: One-on-One Meetings

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Taken from a Pastor/SPRC Workshop

The goal of a pastoral transition is to navigate the change with grace and purpose. One-on-one meetings are a good tool. 

Why conduct a one-on-one instead of making a presentation to a large group?
The pastor must learn what church members’ strengths and concerns are, ad find out what they identify as problems, not tell the community what the problem is. Presentations by their nature do not encourage discussion, participation or feedback. Some people may be uncomfortable expressing an opinion in a group or meeting. That is why a pastor meets first with people individually.

Who do you conduct a one-on-one with?
The pastor needs to talk to as many people as possible at the beginning and throughout the ministry. In order to have a broad base of support and determine people’s real concerns, it is important to make contact with a representative sample of the congregation. It is important not to miss any groups or sectors in the congregations, or they will not have ownership of the ministry, and the pastor will not know what their concerns are.

How does a pastor identify the people to conduct one-on-ones with?
One-on-ones should start with a well known leader. Some things you should do include:

  • Contact that person and ask to sit down and visit with him or her.
  • Brainstorm about who are the key leaders of the church, not necessarily the elected leaders.
  • Ever one-on-one should lead to future contacts. Ask for names of other people who deeply care about the church.

Where does a one-on-one take place?
A one-on-one should take place somewhere that both parties feel comfortable and will not be interrupted. If possible, it is a good idea to go to the office or home of the person you are interviewing. The organizer should offer to go somewhere convenient for the person being interviewed.

What does an organizer ask in a one-on-one?
Find out about the person you are interviewing. Some questions you should ask:

  • Share with me about yourself.
  • What do you like most about the congregation?
  • How long have you attended the church?
  • What ministries and issues are you involved in?
  • What are the strengths of the church?
  • What concerns do you have about the church and its ministry?
  • What do you think of the groups you participate in?
  • What would you like to see happen in the church?
  • How has the church affected you?
  • What way would you consider being involved in the church in the future?
  • Do you have special interests of skills you could contribute?
  • Are there other people you suggest that I talk to?

Remember to ask open-ended questions:
Close-ended: “Do you think we have a stewardship problem?”
Open-ended: “What do you think about the giving from worshipers?”
Close-ended: “Do you like the present worship format?”
Open-ended: “What kind of concerns do you have about worship?”

In addition to the questions above, ask:

  • What surprises or concerns do I need to be aware of?
  • What issues are on the horizon that I need to work with the congregation to address now?
  • What can I do to help you do your ministry well?

How is the one-on-one different from an interview?
A one-on-one is an active discussion and exchange. The pastor is not just gathering information, data or statistics to put into a report. The pastor is forming opinions and evaluating the person during the one-on-one, whereas someone conducting a survey has a neutral role. The one-on-one is the basis for developing a relationship between the pastor and the individual being interviewed. One-on-ones are conducting to identify and create a base of active supporters for moving the congregation forward and to determine who can contribute at what levels. The pastor identifies the people who will be involved in ministry/strategy efforts through the one-on-one process.

How important is it to document your one-on-ones?
It is very important to document your one-on-ones! You will need to create people for future leadership and supports for strategic ministry.


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