At VitalChurch Ministry, we believe we are called to the work of serving as interim pastors in Christian churches around the world. Scripture obviously supports the role of pastors, but what about interim pastors? What does the Bible have to say about them?
While the term “interim pastor” is not used directly in scripture, there are passages that support the concept of an interim pastor, and that help guide the work we do in struggling churches around the world.
Nehemiah: The First Interim Pastor?
In the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, the prophet Nehemiah was called by God to intervene in the lives of the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem. Nehemiah brought focus, leadership, and the Word of God to the people, much like an interim pastor would, to help them accomplish the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.
Like Nehemiah, our interim pastors go into situations where there is a leadership void. The newly returned exiles were in need of direction, and Nehemiah, a gifted leader, stepped in and guided the people and saw the project of building the wall through to completion in an astonishing 52 days! Nehemiah also brought the people together, addressed issues that were of concern, and reinstated the Sabbath Day, as well as the public teaching of the Law.
VitalChurch’s process of church revitalization will take a little longer than 52 days, but what Nehemiah did is a great example of what can be accomplished among a group of people when root issues are addressed, biblical teaching is made a priority, and gifted leadership is put in place to guide them toward a common vision.
Titus: A New Testament “Interim Pastor”
In Titus 1:5 (NIV), the apostle Paul tells Titus, “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished, and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.”
Multiple churches had been planted on the island of Crete. Titus was sent back to these churches to follow up with them and get them back on track, if need be.
The Greek word for “left” in this passage is apoleipo, which implies that he would be left behind only temporarily. So like interim pastors in today’s churches, Titus was not meant to be a permanent, or even a long-term solution to the issues facing the churches on Crete. He was there to address certain issues within the churches and get them to a place where they had their own leadership in place. In the case of Titus, this meant appointing elders. Often, when we serve as interim pastors in churches, this means we prepare churches for their next senior pastor.
Interim Pastors for Churches in Transition or Crisis
Our interim pastors have served in churches facing a variety of issues. Your church may be lacking leadership, like the Israelites in Nehemiah’s time, or it may have problems that need “straightening out,” like the first century churches on Crete. If your church is in a situation that could benefit from an interim pastor who is experienced in helping churches in transition or crisis, contact us at VitalChurch. We’d love to talk with you about your church and tell you more about our approach to interim pastoring.