No matter where you’re headed, your new congregation and you both deserve a great first impression. This will be the first time you meet your new community of faithful believers, so showing them that you mean to tend to their needs professionally is essential. In any new setting, a first impression can be challenging, but in the church, there is little room for error. It takes the average human seven seconds to create lasting feelings surrounding minute details like clothing, posture, smell, and facial expressions, so your first day at the altar is essential to creating a long term relationship with your new community, built on trust and mutual respect.

Start with a clear and focused headspace.

Clearing your head before any big meeting is a great way to make the most of the opportunity. When meeting your congregation for the first time, you may be walking out in front of hundreds of eager community members waiting for your guidance. Their spiritual journey depends on your wisdom and clarity. Take the time to breathe and relax before meeting the large group for the first time. Remember that you have trained extensively for these types of moments; you are incredibly well prepared to take on the challenge of a new congregation yearning for your expertise and leadership. Keeping the weight of your position, as well as your experience and training in mind can help you balance the way ahead, helping you to always deliver well-reasoned advice and strong sermons that your congregation will take to heart as they work on constantly recreating themselves as better, more spiritual individuals.

Look the part.

You will want to make sure that on top of your calm demeanor, you look approachable as well. Ordering some fresh clergy shirts before the big day can go a long way to keeping up a presentable appearance that screams reliability and piety. It goes without saying that personal care is essential. Make sure you take your vitamins, keep up with your shaving routine, and include a Nautica cologne for men in your morning routine. While appearances aren’t strictly essential for the job at hand, a clean look goes a long way towards making a good first impression. Without attention to your appearance, scent, and body language, you might have all the right answers, but few people on board to listen. Make an effort to look well-kept for your first meeting and every one after in order to present yourself as the source of moral and religious guidance that you are.

Do your homework.

Finally, it’s also important to know your stuff like the back of your hand. Reviewing your notes and favorite readings in the days or weeks leading up to the big move and first meeting can help smooth over any rough patches that are a natural part of any change in leadership. You will want to project assuredness from the pulpit in order to capture the attention of your congregation, and there is no more certain way to be confident than to know your material. Remember that a church service is part of the religious sacrament and part production. You must give your congregation meaningful advice and concrete religious teaching in each of your sermons, so constantly improving your speeches, source material, and delivery is a great way to always have confidence in yourself and cater to the needs of your community at the same time. Maintaining confidence in your sermons will give you the ability to change course and interact directly with the troubles that are affecting your unique congregation as they happen. Stiff delivery is the first sign of someone lacking in self-confidence and by extension the ability to lead a faith-based community.

Making a good first impression requires some work, but it’s worth it to ensure that you are always taking care of those in your community.