Tips for Moving Pastors


Susan Miller knows how it feels to live a gypsy’s life. The wife of a corporate hotel executive, Miller moved 14 times in 25 years. The experience had a profound effect and led her to start Just Moved Ministry. The spiritually based non-profit reaches out to people who are frequently uprooted and equips them with tools to help them let go of the past and embrace new lives. She now leads relocation classes in churches, military installations and corporations, as well as trains motivators to guide families who are dealing with the stress of moving. Miller offers these suggestions.

Tips for pastors and their families making a move to a new church and community:

1. Before you move, be sure you have closure with people and places. Take pictures to recall important memories. You might want to make a scrapbook or album with keepsakes representing your time in that church and community.

2. Once you have moved, be aware of what your overload factors are. Watch for physical, emotional and spiritual strain.

3. Try not to compare your last church and community with your new situation.

4. Be careful of having unrealistic expectations. They can be the ruin of any new appointment.

5. Remember, moving is a loss—a tangible loss. You will grieve on some level. Expect to go through the stages of grief because you have lost close touch with friends, a church, a home or a neighborhood you love. It can be even more traumatic when you move to a new place where you may not have a support system in place. Understand that what you are experiencing is normal.

6. Be sensitive to your spouse’s identity crisis. The loss of personal identity in a move can be huge. So many times people introduce the spouse as a pastor’s wife or husband rather than “this is Judy” or “this is Joe.” Loneliness in ministry is a bigger issue than many people realize.

7. Let people help you. It could be the beginning of a friendship and it lets the congregation be a part of your family. Don’t isolate yourselves.

8. Borrow an egg! One way to begin a friendship is to borrow an egg. It’s a way to start a conversation. It’s a first step.

9. Build your nest. Circumstances may force you to hit the ground running, but as much as possible, find time to settle in. It is important to get unpacked, put things in place, begin to make a home and start putting down roots.

10. Communicate. Share your anxiety. Don’t let your emotions fester. Talk to someone. Pray.

11. Remember, the greatest adventure is building the kingdom of God. You are doing God’s work. God has you right where you are to be.

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