BY STEVE DUNN
One of the ministries I engage in is as an Intentional Interim Pastor Specialist. It is a ministry that has evolved tremendously in the last 20 years. In the “olden days” an Interim Pastor was primarily an older pastor who basically “filled the pulpit” and some visitation during the period between one pastor’s departure and the arrival of a new one. They also covered weddings and funerals that might arise in this transition time.
While that was going on the church was moving as quickly as possible to find the next pastor. This was rarely done with intentionality and often done without thorough evaluation. This led to hasty or expedient decisions. The result was the church often “married on the rebound” and most of us know how successful that is.
Now the Intentional Interim Pastor comes to a church where the previous pastor has left. He or she first deals with the grief over that pastor’s leaving or peacemaking over that situation–and to provide some stability to be a congregation who now wonders about the church’s future as this vacuum has emerged,
Next we engage in an assessment of a church’s health. Are there conflicts that need to be resolved. Are there changes that need to be made. What are the strengths a church needs to build upon? Are their weaknesses that need to be addressed? This process usually takes candor and some tough love–generally fighting some battles that have been avoided. The idea is–better let the interim tackle these and go so the next pastor inherits a more healthy and mission-ready church.
Next you try to help a church clarify its vision moving forward and making sure that it is a vision shared by the whole congregation. This ultimately helps the church identify the gifts and vision they need from the next pastor who needs to “fit” or “complete” the Church as it continues to be on mission for Jesus on the mission field where God has planted them.
Sometimes you coach the search team. You resist letting the church make changes or create things the next pastor must do. You’re there temporarily but hopefully you help the church be in good shape for the future.
Intentional–you are doing some specific things that a regular pastor doesn’t do and doing those things rather than everything people the pastor should do. Interim–you are there for a specific period. The church cannot hire YOU. You will leave when the new pastor arrives. Pastor–But in the interim the church has a pastor and it is you.
The next time your church must search for a new pastor, let me suggest that first you bring an Intentional Interim into the process.
For more information and thoughts, check out this link INTENTIONAL