As a pastor, I am classified as a parachute drop leader.
That phrase I learned when I started a new Church almost 25 years ago. Some Church planters have a mother Church to support them, others have a launch team, and some return to a place where they have a history, like a hometown. Other pastors, like me, feel like they are dropped out of an airplane into a foreign land. We don’t know the people, the customs, or the local language.
Almost nine years ago, I dropped into a community in Missouri. Before that, I landed in Alaska, Iowa, and Indiana. With each stop, I walked into a town not knowing anything about the people or their past, and they knew very little about me.
This procedure does have an upside. I can come in and make changes that are not taken personally. I do not know who started this ministry or habit, and I am not trying to offend anyone. I can bring fresh eyes to a Church, and a perspective insiders might have lost long ago.
Obviously, it has a downside too. I am not a local; instead, I am an outsider. As a result, people struggle to trust me and have to work to develop a relationship with me.
It is complicated to connect to people who have recently met you. The only thing that makes it possible is that we all want to please God. As followers of Jesus, we are all on the same page regarding faith. We may see things differently, but we have far more in common because of Jesus than differences. Therefore, people of faith should never feel like strangers, no matter where they are dropped.