At one time or another, almost every church will find itself without a senior pastor. During these times of transition, many churches turn to interim pastors to shepherd their congregation until a new lead pastor can be called. But what makes an effective interim pastor?
At VitalChurch Ministry, we see the following four attributes as being important for an interim pastor to possess.
An Agent of Change
An effective interim pastor is one who is a proven agent of change—meaning, wherever he has been, he has effected change. If your church is serious about getting past the issues that have held you back, you need an interim pastor who has shown a pattern of bringing about lasting change in the previous churches in which they have served. You also need someone who will address the heart issues, as well as the organization issues, that are negatively affecting your church.
If you are a church in transition or crisis, what you don’t want is an interim pastor who acts as a chaplain. Chaplains minister to the people within an organization, but don’t have the authority to bring about change. Rather, they maintain the status quo.
Often, when churches seek out an interim pastor, they are looking for someone to “fill the gap” while they search for a new permanent senior pastor. However, churches who find themselves in a time of crisis would be better served to hire an interim pastor who will help prepare the congregation for the next senior pastor, addressing any systemic issues or areas of conflict during the transitional time.
The ability to lead goes hand-in-hand with being an agent of change. An effective interim pastor is someone whom others will follow, even if they are leading them down a difficult path. Interim pastors often have to make unpopular decisions for the benefit of the church. A gifted interim pastor is able to offer guidance and hope, while empowering individuals along the way.
There are certainly individuals who are “born leaders;” however, when it comes to leading a church as an interim pastor, experience and a demonstrated ability to lead are vital.
The Ability to Listen
A great interim pastor is always listening. Even beyond listening, an interim pastor should really seek to hear what the people in the church are saying. They should not draw conclusions about a church and its needs before taking the time to gain a proper understanding of the people that make up the church—and this only comes through extensive listening.
An interim pastor should listen not only to church leadership and staff members, but also to members of the congregation, in order to get an accurate representation of the church as a whole. Often, church leadership will have a much different perspective on the state of the church than church congregants, so it is important for an interim pastor to hear from various individuals within the church.
Finally, an interim pastor should be self-aware. Someone who is self-aware knows his strengths and weaknesses, and what motivates him. He also pays attention to his emotions, thoughts, words, actions, and reactions, and how they affect those around him.
It is important for an interim pastor to have a healthy amount of self-awareness because understanding yourself, with all your good and bad characteristics, helps you to better understand and empathize with others. A self-aware interim pastor is also solid in his core beliefs, while maintaining a teachable spirit.
VitalChurch Ministry’s Interim Pastors
The interim pastors at VitalChurch Ministry have many years of experience as pastors in churches of all sizes and denominations. Each one has the heart of a pastor, a love for the church, and is passionate about seeing churches transformed into vital and vibrant places.
In addition, our interim pastors have been through our extensive interim pastor training and follow our model of church revitalization, which has effected positive change in churches across the United States and abroad.
If your church is in need of an interim pastor, contact us today. We’d love to talk with you about how VitalChurch’s interim pastors can help bring about revitalization in your church and help prepare your congregation for its next pastor.