In our years of working in interim pastor ministry, we’ve come to realize that many people have only a limited understanding of this type of ministry. The most common misconception is that all interim pastors simply come to a church to preach on Sundays while the church searches for their next lead pastor. While this may be true of some interim pastors, it’s definitely not the case for the intentional interim pastors at VitalChurch Ministry. (You can read more about the different types of interim pastors here.)
Our pastors serve as Christ-centered agents of change for churches experiencing all types of difficult circumstances. When a church brings in this type of intentional interim pastor, there are many benefits, but here are three great ones:
An Objective Outside Perspective
Your church’s current leadership may be made up of people who have been a part of the church for many years—even decades. While this isn’t a negative thing, it can definitely mean that an outside perspective would be beneficial—especially during a time of transition. An interim pastor can look at things with fresh eyes. When interim pastors from VitalChurch Ministry go into churches, they assess everything from staff roles to discipleship pathways to church governance systems. They look for areas that can be improved and then work with the existing church leadership to make any needed changes.
An Opportunity for Change
Our team won’t come in and try to change your church’s doctrinal stance, but there are likely things that your church has been doing (or not doing) that need to change. Maybe the demographics of the area in which your church is located have changed in recent years, and your usual methods of outreach are no longer effective. Or maybe there are more new believers in your church than in years past. Your church may want to consider adding some additional discipleship ministries to help them grow in their faith.
When VitalChurch Ministry comes to a church, we always start our work by conducting a thorough church assessment. This helps us understand the makeup of a church, and also reveals what a church is doing well and what areas could use improvement. From there, we work with the church and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit to determine what needs to change. It isn’t a quick or easy process, but it is one that has helped many churches find a renewed sense of purpose in their ministry.
There will always be those who are resistant to change. They like to know what to expect when they come to church, or they might think that everything is going well and that nothing actually needs to change. We do our best to lovingly bring these types of people along. We communicate regularly with the congregation about changes that are being implemented and allow the church to be a part of the process. One way we do this is through a series of church summits, which are led by lay leaders from within the church. These are all-church gatherings that seek to answer the question, “What is the Spirit saying to our church?” The churches we have worked with have found this “Focusing the Church” process to be extremely valuable!
The Gift of Time
Churches that are without a permanent lead pastor can often feel a sense of urgency to find someone new to fill the vacant position. The congregation may be clamoring for a new leader, or the remaining church leaders could be becoming weary trying to do a job for which they feel unqualified. People may even be leaving the church over its apparent lack of leadership. Situations like these could lead to a church making a rash decision that has long-term consequences. We’ve seen churches promote a junior pastor who was not quite ready (or called) to assume a lead pastor role. We have also seen churches hire someone from the outside who came in and made unexpected, sweeping changes, or who just wasn’t the right fit. It’s important for a church to take their time and do a thorough pastoral search process before making the important decision of hiring a new lead pastor.
When you bring in a full-time interim pastor, it can take some of the pressure off of church leaders to call a new lead pastor quickly. An interim pastor from VitalChurch Ministry can not only offer consistent, gospel-centered preaching on Sundays, but can also provide leadership to staff, ministry leaders, and the congregation as a whole. With clear leadership in place, your pastoral search team will be able to take the time to carefully and prayerfully craft detailed church and candidate profiles, and then spend a good amount of time vetting potential candidates. When done properly, this pastoral search process can take a year or more. This isn’t a process you want your church to rush through! (You can read more about our perspective on the pastoral search process here.)
The three benefits listed above aren’t the only benefits of bringing in an interim pastor to your church during a time of transition. Read the testimonials from some of the people we’ve worked with in the past. You’ll see testimonials from church elders, staff members, as well as congregation members—all of whom experienced the benefits of working with a team of pastors who truly wanted to see their church revitalized and brought to a place of renewed intimacy with God.
Contact us at VitalChurch Ministry to learn more about what it means to bring an interim pastor to your church.