Take time to orient everyone to the training location, pointing out parking, restrooms, WiFi access, and other housekeeping matters. Help everyone settle in.
Keep in mind that hosting at the church, while efficient, might not suit your objectives nearly as well as a more remote place of beauty, such as a denominational facility or retreat venue. Choose wisely. This is holy ground.
Devotions: Spend time in scripture, sharing personal prayer requests, and checking in with one another since the last meeting. If the PNC participated in the Mission Study, share a related experience of growth or meaningful insight. Model how scripture, prayer, and interpersonal relationships equip the work of the PNC.
First Team-Building Exercise: Based on the interests and ability of the group, lead a morning communications activity to aid in team skill-building among members. Get people up, moving around, and interacting in new ways. IDEA: Standing in a circle, the leader starts by sharing first name, middle name (the one they have or wish they had), where they lived and went to 8th grade, and their first paying job. Holding on to end of a ball of yard, toss the ball to someone who shares his/her names, first job; then holding onto yarn, he/she tosses the ball to another person, and so on. When complete, talk about the ‘web’ of connections made – any similar middle names, or jobs, or places lived, etc. Do a second round, changing the questions and rules as you like.
Consider taking pictures of the web, and other activities throughout the day, for sharing on website, social media, with new pastor, etc.
Break (10-15 minutes): IDEA: Call everyone back from break with music that might lead to a short dance party, swing your partner, or other fun activity.
Steps to Calling a Pastor: Structure this time in a setting conducive to note-taking, allowing plenty of time for conversation and Q&A. Outline what happens first, second, next, and what it looks like to finish well. Talk about the potential hazards PNC’s face and how to mitigate.
Lunch: Offer enough time to eat, check phones/email, stroll around a bit.
Best Practices of a PNC: Offer guidance on how the PNC might structure their time together in meetings, in terms of work flow and what type of resources are available to them such as denominational leaders, educational tools (books, websites, blogs, consultants, search firms, coaches). Talk about what an interim pastor can do to help and be clear about what the interim is wisely cautioned not to do. Be honest. Share case stories and offer examples.
Determine PNC Roles: Involve the members in selecting who will chair/co-chair the PNC, serve as recorder/secretary, manage finances/budget, interact with church leadership/session/trustees, etc.
Second Team-Building Exercise: Based on the interests and ability of the group, lead an afternoon activity such as a trust-walk, a trust-fall, or other trust building group activity to aid in the development of mutual trust among members. Invite a trained leader to facilitate this activity if personal risk is involved.
Covenant: In the final 30 minutes or so together, begin to draft the rules of engagement, so to speak, to state how the PNC intends to work together. Be aspirational. Consider using scripture and elements of the mission study to help clarify. Talk about whether the covenant is meant for internal use by the PNC only or if it might be shared more broadly. Do not rush the process. If energy is lagging, send members home with a draft copy for further contemplation and prayer.
Blessing: Send the PNC off with a blessing from scripture and your own words of affirmation to depart from this holy ground to their ongoing task, equipped, and charged to trust in God and to lean into one another as they carry out their holy endeavor. Consider offering them a small token of the day — a group photo, a stone from the lakeshore, bookmark tied with yarn from the morning activity, or other suitable reminder of the day.
AFTER THE MEETING
Debrief (Hosts): After the PNC departs, stick around for 30 minutes or so to catch your breath, recap highlights of the day, jot down lessons learned, and marvel at God’s goodness to you in the midst of this interim season. Express appreciation to your co-hosts, facilitators, and site hosts with a token of the day and pre-written brief note of thanks.
Later On: When the time seems right, find a meaningful way to share a highlight or two from the training with the congregation. Consider inviting them to sign a covenant of support or community, demonstrating their commitment to trust in God’s provision of new pastoral leadership.