What Works for Me In… Getting A Good Start In A New District

You are headed to a new district. You’re excited but nervous. What should you do and what should you avoid in your first few weeks and months? We would love to have you add your comments. Listed below are insights from–


Charles Burkeen–

Here is a document that I’ve given out as I work with the new guys. Some of the items are dated, but it gives us a chance to discuss how to adapt the principles for the 21st century.  


I. “Well begun is half done.”

A. Usually, as you come into a new field you will speak on Sabbath before you are moved in.

1. Fit right into the church program as it is planned. The first Sabbath, or first few months for that matter, is not a time for a change in the service.

2. Pray and plan for an excellent and appealing sermon.

3. End your sermon with an appeal.

a. A call for baptism first, and then –
b. A call for re-consecration on the part of the entire congregation as you take up your work among them.

4. This will immediately set the pace for a deeply spiritual ministry. Keep it that way. Be known as a man of God.

B. At the close of this first service it is well to call a church board meeting.

1. This will be brief, but will give you an opportunity to get acquainted with the leading church officers.

a. Have the clerk introduce you to each member of the board. Repeat their names and remember them! (The clerk can give you a list of the members present, and by the next time you see them you will call them by name.)
b. Cultivate the talent of remembering names. Nothing will get you off on the right foot so quickly as mastering the church members’ names – soon.

2. At the close of this “get acquainted” meeting ask:

a. Are there any members in the hospital who should be visited?
b. May I have a list of all shut-ins? I want to visit them first.
c. Are there any sick at home?
d. How about those who are discourage and needing a visit?

3. Now you have really set the pace for your visiting ministry.

a. Your board will be greatly impressed.
b. But unless you follow through, this program will be nothing but a sham. So go out that afternoon and visit – hospital, shut-ins, sick at home, the discouraged. Already you will have made a deep impression upon your members and begun your new assignment as a true shepherd of the flock.

C. Clerk’s Book

1. The clerk’s records are a valuable source book for a new pastor to read upon coming to a new district.

2. They contain all the church members’ names, how and when they came into the church.

3. They will also give a valuable source of backsliders and disfellowshipped.

a. Make a note of these names and place them in your prospect file.
b. Immediately you will begin to see your prospect file grow.

4. The clerk’s book will give you actions taken at the church board and business session, thus acquainting you with the church immediately.

5. There is probably no more reliable a source for the pastor than the clerk’s records. Don’t bypass this opportunity to be an “expert” on your church in a very short time.

a. You can see if the church has grown, or lost membership.
b. How it has been doing in soul-winning.

D. The Treasurer’s Report. Take this file along with you too.

1. Here again is ready material to make you an expert on your new church.

2. In a few minutes’ study you can pick up the financial trend of the church.

a. Tithe per capita
b. Response to all offerings

3. Acquaint yourself with these facts for the past 3-4 years. Pick up the trend so you can speak intelligently concerning these matters. Your fingers will immediately find the problem areas, and know where your strength lies.

II. When you have moved to your new field –

A. First set your home in order, spend some hard days helping your wife.

1. Make the home as homey and tidy as possible.
2. Hang draperies, etc.

B. Now you are ready to become acquainted with your new parish.

1. This is the moment for organizing your visiting program.
2. You will never regret the time spent on organization.

C. How to organize visiting.

1. Obtain a master map.

a. Pinpoint every member’s home.
b. In rural areas pinpoint the homes on a county map according to routes.
c. This will give you an over-all picture of every home.

2. Now with each family pinpointed –

a. Organize a visiting schedule.
b. Place your folks’ names on cards or in a pastoral visiting book, as you would visit them.
c. Then when you are in a certain area, you can visit all members there, one after the other in sequence, and save much time.

3. Divide your visitation list in two groups:

a. Those who can be seen days (retired, elderly, wives of non-Seventh day Adventist husbands who don’t work out, young people, etc.)
b. Night calls (those who are away days)

4. Your visiting is where you will learn your parish.

a. Become a professional at remembering names. A football player goes over every play until he can see it backward and forward.
b. One old minister, Pastor William Anderson of Nashville, says:

Be sure to get the name. Spell it distinctly. Write it down. Say it aloud, more than once. Associate it with something fixed, facially. Visualize the other person, with a “camera eye.” Use the name whenever you meet the person. Talk over at night every new name or face. Take time. Use all your senses. Will to know. Determine by God’s grace to excel in this art.

c. When you get home at night go over your visits with your wife. Describe the people to her, and tell her the names. This will fix names and faces in your mind.
d. You will discover soon the fringe members who need special attention.

5. The call itself should be in the most relaxed manner.

a. Never appear to be in a hurry, yet always appear to be a man with a mission.
b. Someone has said: “Our doctor is the busiest man in town. Still he never seems to be in a hurry. No matter how many people are waiting to see him elsewhere, he always stays until he has done everything he can to make us feel well, strong, and happy.”
c. This should be said about every pastor.
d. Each young minister ought to develop early in his ministry the ability to make short, spiritual, unhurried calls.

6. If the folk are not home, leave your card and a brief note of encouragement. (Scripture promise)

7. Let the folk know you are a visiting pastor, a spiritual pastor and a professional pastor.

8. Every visit should add to your prospect file.

a. All of these interests, family and friends, should be placed in your visiting file, geographically, so that you can visit them along with your pastoral visitation.
b. Always keep your eye open for two families close together so that you can begin a branch Sabbath School or a cottage meeting.

D. Now that you have visited your entire congregation.

1. Your prospect file is growing and current.

2. You know the needs of your district so your preaching can be more effective.

3. You are now ready to make definite plans for a program of soul-winning and soul-keeping in your parish.


Glenn Aufderhar–

sent three items (shown below) to each of his new members before his arrival- “Your Dreams For Your Church,” “Let’s Get Aquainted” and “Mostly Personal”


 Your Dreams For Your Church


(Use the back side and or extra sheets if you need more space-just identify which number your comments relate to. 

If you want a reply to dialogue about any comment please include your name at the bottom.)


  • 1. If the Lord has not come three years from now it is my prayer that our church will






  • 2. My main reasons for belonging to the Abundant Life Church Family are:






  • 3. The things I enjoy most about this fellowship are:






  • 4. Changes that I think would strengthen or improve the ministry of our church are:






  • 5. I hope our new pastor will _____________________________________________________




  • 6. I hope our new pastor will not __________________________________________________




  • 7. Things I’d like to understand better through study groups or sermons:

(Please identify at least your top three with 1 being of highest interest, more is OK-leave any blank if of no interest)

  __ Assurance in Jesus;   __ Giving and getting Forgiveness;  __ End time prophecies;      __ How to enjoy sharing my faith;  __ Relief from grief;   __Daniel;  __Revelation; __ Hebrews; __Paul’s epistles; __ Why Bad Things Happen; __ Victory in Jesus;  __ Inspiration & the Spirit of Prophecy;                        __ Standards & why they appear to change; __Joyful Christianity;  __ Holy Spirit & latter rain:   __Making family worship worth the effort; __ Resolving conflict;  __Health & Spirituality; __Stewardship of time & resources:  __Peace in a troubled world; __ Managing anger: __Ready for the Return:  __ How to help our youth;

Other: _____________________________________________________________________


Name (optional) __________________________________________________________________


Let’s Get Acquainted


My name: ___________________________________ I’m (Circle one) single,  married,

                                                                                                              widowed, divorced

 (if married, when ______________ & where __________________________________)     


My Address in the church directory is correct ­­­­­ __ yes; __ no (if not please print new address) 


 _______________________________________ Address ­­­­­­­­­­­­­____________________________________________________________________Phone ______________


I’ve lived here ________ years.  I’m a (circle all that apply) student, entrepreneur, home-maker, retiree, employee at __________________________________,   professional _____________________. parent with (number) ___________ children,


names and ages_______________________________________________________

grandparent with (#) _____________ grandchildren  & ___________  great grands with ages ranging from _________ (youngest to oldest __________


Hobbies I enjoy include (circle all that apply)

archery, astronomy, auto-racing, baking, biking, bowling, camping, carving, ceramics, computers, cooking, crocheting, fishing, flower-arranging, gardening, golf, hiking, horseback-riding, horseshoes,  hunting, jogging, knitting, music, needle work, numismatics, painting, photography, ping-pong, puzzles, reading, rock hound, rock-climbing, scuba diving, sculpting, sewing, sailing,  sky-diving, snow skiing, spelunking,  stamp collecting, table games, team sports, tennis, traveling, video games, walking, water sports, weaving, woodworking, writing,  other _________________________________


My Favorite Vacation is _________________________________________________


Skills I’d like to develop include _____________________________________________


Seminars I’d like to take ________________________________________________ or                                                          be willing to teach __________________________________________________


One Place I’d like to visit (if money and time were no obstacle) ____________________


Best books I’ve read in the last year include: __________________________________


My Childhood Hero was _________________________________________________


One thing I’d like to be able to do to make our town a better place _________________ 



Anything else you would like to share you may put on the back


Let’s Get Acquainted


A request has come for a bit of personal detail about our family.  We gladly exchange something about us hoping you will do the same.  I have created a form that may make it easier for Barb and me to keep it organized in our heads and hearts.  (If you have a copy of a favorite photo we’d be appreciate it as well).  Here’s a personal sketch.


Mostly Personal

            Barbara Salter and I met at Auburn Academy in the early ‘50’s.  We were married in Centralia, Washington and worked in the woods, or canvassed for 5 years before we went to college at Walla Walla and earned a masters degree at Andrews.  We had three children, Nancy Aufderhar-Harlan, Kenneth and of course you know Mike and his family, Brenda, Serena and Chad.

            We lost Nancy to cancer just over a year ago during her distinguished career teaching at Loma Linda Academy.  We have seven grandchildren.  The youngest two are in Calimesa, California, where their father Kenn is home-schooling them while their mother Christine is finishing her third year of dental school at Loma Linda.  One grandchild teaches art at LaSierra Academy, one teaches Spanish and English at Livingston Academy in Salem, Oregon and the other is a manager in a fast food restaurant in Loma Linda.

            We interned in the Washington conference, served in evangelism for 6 years in Washington, Idaho and the North Pacific Union before moving to Wisconsin to hold a city-wide evangelistic series in Milwaukee.   While there we were asked to join the conference office staff to open two new departments-Stewardship and Trust Services.

            Early in that work a family gave the conference a chain of health-care facilities known as Mid-American Health Care Inc. with 1000 beds in 8 locations.   Before the final transfer the family made the gift conditional upon my coming to work there as president.  After much agony and prayer by the conference committee I agreed to go if I could remain as an employee of the conference at ministerial pay rather than the higher health care scale.  It was a great learning experience and prepared us for the future in ways that I could not have envisioned.

            After nearly seven years we had found a person the donor and the Board felt could relieve us to go back into more direct soul-winning work.  Washington Conference invited us to return as Ministerial Director and Executive Secretary.  A year later we were elected president.  Those were wonderful years of fellowship and spiritual development in our “home” conference.

            God dramatically saved churches from some of the heresies and financial pitfalls that were raging during the early ‘80’s.    We served Washington until 1985 when Michigan Conference invited us to become their president.  In Michigan we spent six eventful and rewarding years where we again saw God do things that were beyond human devising or skill.

            One of our interests in harnessing the power of personal evangelism with the power of the public media had opportunity for expression when the General Conference asked us to serve as President of the Adventist Media Center.  We lived in Thousand Oaks, California for 12 years and rejoiced at the evidence of God’s leading in the creation of Net ’95, series and its successors.   Barb enjoyed her work as a counselor in the VOP Bible Correspondence School.

            The last six years of active ministry we served as Assistant to the President of the North American Division.  Much of that time was spent maturing the Adventist Communication Network, planning and assisting in the “Net Evangelism” activities which has grown into the Hope Channel.

            The disadvantages of that work was its constant travel.  Barb and I both missed the encouragement and  growth that comes from being integrated into a spiritual family.   That is what we are looking forward to in joining you in the Abundant Life Church.  By His grace we can all benefit from our association and work together. 

That is our prayer.

Glenn and Barbara Aufderhar


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