Interim Ministry

Today, every faith community is experiencing change and transition. Whether it is shifting demographics, decrease in membership, attendance, and finances, a need to restructure staff and/or lay leadership, a no longer vibrant mission/vision, and/or even the possibility of relocation. This is a difficult and sometimes painful experience. Add to this list a change of pastors, and the anxiety suddenly increases several fold.

Consequently, the way a congregation chooses to use its interim time will shape congregational growth, identity, and health for years to come. What is done in the interim time really determines whether the new minister, staff and congregation will form a solid ministry team. This interim time is the ideal opportunity for a congregation to clearly answer the questions: “Who are we?” “What is God calling us to do?”

To openly and candidly address these questions, faith community leaders find that they are best served by outside assistance. Such help can be secured in at least three ways. It is important to note that in all of these options, the interim minister cannot be a candidate for the permanent pastor.

Traditional Interim

The interim minister and the congregation enter into a mutually agreeable covenant that spells out the expectations. The interim minister performs all responsibilities as usually expected of the pastor, limited only by whether the congregation desires full time or part time ministry. Compensation is based upon the package of the last pastor and is determined by the amount of time expected (full time or part time). The interim minister has an accountability group (e.g. Personnel Committee) designated in the covenant.

Intentional Interim

The Intentional Interim Minister (IIM) and the congregation enter into a mutually agreeable covenant that spells out the expectations. The IIM is an experienced minister who has completed over 85 hours of specialized training and fieldwork experience to develop proficiency in this unique ministry. Performing all the usual responsibilities of the pastor, the IIM leads the congregation to look at five areas of a healthy congregation (see below), as they to prepare to search for and call their next pastor. Compensation is based on the package of the last pastor or the anticipated compensation package for the next pastor, and is determined by the amount of time expected (full time or part time).

The IIM will help the congregation establish a Transition Team, will train the team, and then facilitate their leading the congregation through five areas (called Focus Points) of a healthy congregation:

  • Heritage: reviewing how the congregation has been shaped and formed
  • Mission: defining and redefining sense of purpose and direction
  • Leadership: reviewing the congregation’s ways of organizing and developing new and effective clergy and lay leadership
  • Connections: discovering all the relationships and networks a faith community builds beyond itself
  • Future: synthesizing the interim work, activating and training the pastoral search committee, and coaching the committee (as requested) to accomplish its work.

The IIM has an accountability group (usually the Transition Team) designated in the covenant.

Transition Facilitator

This option combines the part-time or full-time traditional interim model with a second person serving as a Transitional Facilitator (TF). The TF will train and facilitate a Transition Team to lead the congregation through five areas of a healthy congregation as described above. The TF is both a certified IIM and congregational consultant. The cost for the TF is based upon a proposal written to fit the specific needs of a congregation.

Based upon a congregation’s decision as to how they will process through the interim time, the Center can assist by sharing profiles of persons who are trained for the work.