Pastoral Transitions: Benefits of Investing in an Interim Pastor vs a Weekend Preacher
Dr. Rich Brown
National Director of Pastor and Regional Relationships, Interim Pastor Ministries
The interim pastor can create an atmosphere where renewal and healthy change are expected and potentially realized. With the exit of the previous pastor, an opportunity for change appears. New ways of thinking and behaving can emerge during the transition resulting in renewed enthusiasm, which can be a great climate for a new pastor to inherit.
The interim pastor can provide an opportunity to work on specific tasks. Transitional leadership is a specialized field. Not just any pastor can do this work well. The time between pastors provides the opportunity for the congregation, without a senior pastor present, to look in the mirror, see what God sees, and adjust accordingly.
The interim pastor can put the focus on overall congregational health, preventing a premature pastoral search. Jumping into a pastoral search too quickly can overshadow the need for an examination and treatment of health-impeding symptoms. Congregations that rush into a search often do so as a reaction to the vacuum created by a pastoral exit, not as a healthy responseto the need to take the next step in the process. The use of an interim pastor’s ministry can allow time for the pastoral search process to happen naturally. The better a congregation knows itself, how God is leading, and what kind of leader is needed going forward, the better the outcome will be.
The interim pastor can allow a congregation to embrace a transitional vision with clear goals and directed action. When a congregation has a clear transitional vision, the likelihood of the transition being productive will increase.A transitional vision is not a long-term, all-encompassing vision. It is rather a short-term picture of what the congregation needs to look like in order to move forward in health and strength with the next senior pastor.
The interim pastor can give a congregation the opportunity to clean house and re-establish what's really important. From time to time, congregations need to clean out the cobwebs (outdated programs, unresolved conflicts, expired church documents) that have accumulated over time. The time between pastors provides an opportunity to discuss and deal decisively with sacred cows and elephants (those issues and problems the people all know are there but are either unwilling or unable to tackle) so that the incoming pastor will have the freedom and the opportunity to start fresh in a clean house.
*Adapted from Between Pastors by Taylor and Simpson
Your first resource when a church is facing a pastoral transition is your Converge regional office.
To learn more about how Interim Pastor Ministries can help your church during its pastoral transition:
Or Contact: Dr. Rich Brown: National Director of Pastor and Regional Relationships
Dr. Rich Brown, National Director of Pastor and Regional Relationships, Interim Pastor Ministries
Dr. Brown graduated from Bethel Seminary with two graduate degrees and one post-grad degree. He combines 24 years of pastoral experience with 21 years in Christian higher ed leadership and 6 interim pastorates to work with denominational leaders, pastors and churches in IPM’s ministry to churches in pastoral transition.