In one of our blog posts last month, we said we would be using some of our upcoming posts to discuss the questions our interim pastors seek to answer during their time in churches. So, as promised, here’s another question that almost always needs answering in churches facing a season of transition: “What are the real issues and what are God’s solutions?”
When we are first contacted by a church facing a season of transition or crisis, they will often tell us the issue(s) they are facing and why they need our help. They will say something like:
- “We can’t seem to keep a lead pastor on staff for more than a year or two.”
- “The size of our congregation has been steadily declining for years.”
- “There is so much conflict among our pastors/staff/board of elders/congregation about how we should do church.”
Yes, all of these are serious issues in a church, but they are often not the real issues. When we really get down to the heart of the matter, there are often deeper issues as to why a church is facing ongoing struggles. For example, lead pastors may choose not to stay for more than a year or two because they get burnt out for lack of people or systems in place to support them. A church may be in steady decline because a congregation has lost trust in its leaders. There may be ongoing conflict about how the church should operate because they don’t have a clearly defined mission or vision statement.
One of the first steps in our process is to identify a church’s real issues, which we do as part of our Diagnostic Analysis. We use carefully designed surveys to ask pointed questions that help reveal problem areas. In some instances, we conduct in-person input sessions with pastors, board members, staff, and lay leaders to get additional insight.
Our diagnostic team then takes all the information they gather and identifies a church’s core issues. They also offer prayerfully considered recommendations for moving forward. Our recommendations will be specific and actionable.
Some churches are able to act on our recommendations without outside help, but for those who need additional assistance, one of our intentional interim pastors can be brought in to facilitate the work that needs to be done. Once in a church, our interim pastors are there to serve as pastors, not consultants or coaches. They graciously guide the church through whatever changes need to be made and address the things that hinder them from becoming a vibrant congregation. Throughout the entire interim period, our pastors are humbly seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance along with the church.
Addressing church issues is never easy. It requires a willingness to surrender everything to God and follow where He is leading.
If your church is struggling with ongoing issues or is in the midst of a leadership transition, we’d love to talk to you about how VitalChurch Ministry can help. Contact us to learn more.