PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Some ministers have been around for a long time, others are just getting their start. We talk with Jeff Gardner, the new pastor at Daphne Baptist Church about the best way to start in a new church.

Guest: We need to start small, do it right, and build it strong, and I think that’s the key in any situation, especially in a church situation. I think we have to apply that at every level of what we do in the life of the church. But I also think that a big part of it is predicated on relationships and we have to develop those relationships in those early days when we first come into the church. We’ve been really fortunate at Daphne, we had Dr. Mac Morris. There was a transitional pastor there, and he’s really done a whole lot for us to help us develop those relationships with the membership and things and I really see it kind of like what we see in the gospels with Jesus. You know, it’s sort of like Mac has been sort of my John the Baptist, maybe going ahead of me and telling everybody here he comes, you know?

And so that has opened a door to people to accept us and to really love us. But also I, I think that you can see how it’s been this situation of developing these relationships like Jesus poured into his disciples and then he sent them out into the world to literally turn the world upside down is what we read in Scripture.

Anchor: So how do you keep the current congregation while drawing others in?

Guest: Well, again, I think that’s all about relationships, so a lot of this really comes back to relationships and I think it’s important to maintain a healthy balance between honoring the past, but also looking toward the future. But that’s not necessarily a 50-50 proposition with people.

Anchor: How can you make changes without rocking the boat?

Guest: Really, there’s no way to make changes without rocking the boat a little bit, but I do like the analogy, kind of because of driving a ship is very similar to leading a church, and you don’t necessarily drive as a ship, you know, but it is a very similar process. You know you have to be careful about how you do things. You know in a ship you can’t jam on the brakes. You have to plan your moves and what you’re going to do, and so that’s a big part of what we’re doing. Developing a vision looking down the road for what we’re going to do, and how we’re going to accomplish that in the church, but I think it’s also good for us to remember that.

Small strategic moves will make a bigger difference over the course of time than maybe big radical moves, and we don’t want to, you know, you don’t want to take things back and forth and rock the boat that way because you start making too many course corrections, you’re going to have people jumping ship on you.

Anchor: What is the greatest joy at starting at a new church?

Oh man, I guess I’d have to go back to the relationships issue there. You know when when we came to Daphne, one of the things that that we could look at there is it was like starting with a clean sheet of paper, so to speak. And the people that are that we have there, are really excited about what God’s doing in the life of the church and in our community. That’s been one of the best things about it, and one of the great joys is getting to know them.