There’s a breed of pastors who have committed to serving churches between “permanent pastors.” A good interim pastor is like gold.
Good interim pastors help congregations come to terms with their recent (and sometimes distant) past. They prepare the way for the next pastor, so that that he/she can hit the ground running, rather than deal with a difficult staff member or gnawing issue.
But today, we need at least a few Interim Pastors who know how to teach 21st Century Church culture to their interim churches. For example:
- A pastor has just left after 20 years and the church had still been functioning as a 1980s church. They have never heard of the shifts in church culture. They are still of the mind that ‘if we build it, they will come.’ They need an interim who will prepare them to call a pastor who can lead them in a post-Christian culture.
- After attempting to jolt a dying church with new energy, the pastor is moving along. Her congregation rejected all ideas to reach out into the neighborhood. A core group of long-time members rejected the notion that the church will never be as it was in the 1970s. Now they need an interim who can help them assess their future story: What’s next for them? Should they call an established pastor who will look like their former pastors? Or do they want to try again with another visionary pastor? Are they at the point when they basically need a chaplain? The answer to these questions require knowledge of missional church, conversations about Belonging-Behaving-Believing, etc.
We need transitional pastors who can also offer redevelopment consultation – not to do the redevelopment necessarily, but to help a church discern if they really want to make the shifts to keep their ministry going and thriving.
Not every congregation needs this. Some congregations still need traditional interim pastors who have serious work to do, to be sure. But there are increasingly congregations who need an interim/consultant who helps them – forgive me for this word – survive.