Intentional interim pastors are more than just senior pastors who travel from church to church, filling the gap in those churches without a permanent senior pastor. They carry out a special role in churches during a specific time of need. More so than a typical senior pastor, an intentional interim pastor is often responsible for helping a congregation heal, bringing about reconciliation, addressing areas of weakness or sin, and helping them find their purpose as a church. As such, there are some spiritual characteristics that we believe every intentional interim pastor should have in order to carry out his purpose with effectiveness.
A Willingness to Listen to the Holy Spirit
An intentional interim pastor shouldn’t come to a church thinking he has all the answers to the church’s problems or issues. An intentional interim pastor should be constantly listening to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice to determine what He has to say about the church’s direction.
Acts 13 gives an account of a group of men who were worshipping and fasting, and it was during that time that the Holy Spirit called out Barnabas and Paul to do His work. An interim pastor should regularly seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit with regard to his own life and its direction, as well as for the churches in which he serves.
Yes, self-awareness is a spiritual quality! An intentional interim pastor can’t ask that a church become aware of its issues unless he is aware of his own.
On the first page of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin says that “…the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are bound together by a mutual tie…” Given this tie, an intentional interim pastor should take the time to do the difficult work of inner reflection that comes during times of silence and solitude. He should also regularly solicit feedback from those who love him, as well as listen to the feedback of those who clearly don’t.
A Lifestyle of Repentance
A lifestyle of repentance is at the core of a gospel-driven life. It involves the constant willingness to recognize sin, call it what it is, and turn from it. An intentional interim pastor must be able to model a lifestyle of repentance, since he is often in the position of having to call a congregation to corporate repentance.
A Willingness to Take a Serious Look at Idols
Martin Luther once noted that you can’t break commandments 2-10 without breaking the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.” At its root, all sin is idolatry, and an intentional interim pastor must be aware of what things or people in his life are, or have the potential to become, idols. He must also be willing to address those idols in his own life, as well as be able to recognize what idols are present in the churches in which they serve.
A Gospel-Centered Life
An effective intentional interim pastor reminds himself daily of the gospel’s message and the gospel’s power to change hearts. Titus 2:11 tells us that the grace of God (that’s the gospel) offers salvation to all people and teaches them, or trains them, to renounce ungodliness and worldly lusts. That term “teach” or “train” is the word “tutor.” An intentional interim pastor should allow the gospel to tutor him in his spiritual life. When tempted to sin, he should let the gospel tell him, “Hey, don’t do that. Jesus died to save you from that.”
Intentional Interim Pastors for Churches in Transition or Crisis
You may have noticed that at VitalChurch Ministry, we tend to use the phrase “intentional interim pastor,” as opposed to just “interim pastor.” We do this because our team of pastors is called to the very specific ministry of interim pastoring and all that it entails. Our pastors don’t go into churches with the hope of being promoted from interim pastor to permanent senior pastor. In fact, they make it very clear in every church that they won’t be the next permanent pastor. They come to churches with a job to do, which includes preparing the congregation to call their next senior pastor.
Our pastors are also not “temporary” pastors. They don’t just maintain the status quo while the church searches for a new pastor. Rather, they are agents of change for churches facing challenging circumstances, helping them address any issues that are hindering the health of the church body.
If your church is in a season of transition, without a senior pastor, contact VitalChurch Ministry to see if an intentional interim pastor from VitalChurch Ministry could be the right fit for your church.