The interim pastors at VitalChurch are hard at work all over the country, and even in other parts of the world, working with churches going through times of transition or crisis. One of our interim pastors just completed his interim period at one of those churches, and we wanted to recap the work he did there so you can get some insight into what it’s like to work with the VitalChurch team.
VitalChurch Hired to Complete Church Assessment
In the spring of 2016, VitalChurch was contacted by a church in central Washington state to conduct a diagnostic analysis. The church, which is a member of the Alliance denomination, was without a senior pastor, and they wanted to do a church health assessment before they began the pastoral search process. VitalChurch was recommended to the church by the denomination’s District Superintendent, as well as by a couple of local churches that have used the services of VitalChurch.
The VitalChurch team traveled to the Alliance church to conduct the church health assessment. The assessment revealed several key issues facing the church, including:
- An organizational infrastructure that was not set up to handle a large congregation
- A congregation that was inwardly focused and not particularly friendly to outsiders
- Lack of a clear pathway for discipleship or spiritual formation
Despite these issues, the church was experiencing no serious conflict or obvious division, and they had a great missional ministry. After presenting the findings of our church assessment, we suggested that they either hire a consultant or staff an intentional interim pastor that could help them use the transition period they were in as an opportunity to make some important changes that would increase the health and vitality of the church. They chose to hire an intentional interim pastor from VitalChurch.
VitalChurch Interim Pastor Arrives at Alliance Church
Our interim pastor arrived at the Washington church in August 2016 and immediately began working with church leadership—both the staff and the elder board—to improve processes and update infrastructure. With the staff, our interim pastor helped rewrite job descriptions and made other changes that would allow them to run the day-to-day ministry in a God-glorifying, Christ-centered way. The staff was also encouraged to empower and release laypeople into ministry, rather than taking all of the responsibilities upon themselves, and the decision was made to hire a part-time assimilation director to create programs that would move the church toward more intentional discipleship and evangelism ministries.
Shortly after our interim pastor’s arrival, the church also found itself without a worship pastor. When a member of the congregation stepped up to serve as the interim worship pastor, the VitalChurch interim pastor used the transition as an opportunity to re-focus the worship experience more intentionally on Christ, rather than on the performance aspect of the music. The congregation appreciated the effort to balance theological depth and emotional energy during worship, and the worshipful spirit in the church was noticeably improved.
With the congregation as a whole, the VitalChurch interim pastor conducted three church-wide training events—one on prayer, one on conflict resolution, and one on relational connection—and also reignited the church’s prayer ministry. In addition, the church formed a “focusing team” of laypersons who ran a series of summits where church members were given the opportunity to give input into the vision, direction, and values of the church. The outcomes of these “Focusing the Church” summits became the foundation for the pastoral search process, since the church’s values would determine the kind of pastor they would ultimately choose.
The VitalChurch interim pastor guided the church’s internal search committee in the process of finding a new denominational pastor, and also conducted an assessment of potential candidates, providing a written report to the search committee. The church called the new Senior Pastor in August of 2017 after a unanimous vote by the church’s Lead Team.
As our interim pastor’s time at the church came to a close, the church began seeing a significant increase in the number of new young families with children coming on Sundays. We have no concrete reason for this outcome, but it stands to reason that when it is clear that a church is willing to face its issues, the younger generation is more willing to make church a part of their lives. We even saw many young men come forward and publicly commit to lead their families and the church forward into the future by following Jesus.
Overall, we are very pleased with the amount of work that was accomplished in this Washington church in a relatively short amount of time. Working within the Alliance denomination was a great experience for our interim pastors, and we greatly appreciate the amount of trust that was placed in the VitalChurch team to help guide this church toward a new vision and direction. We continue to pray for this church, and we are currently providing follow-up consulting for church leadership, including their new senior pastor.
If you are part of a church that is need of a church health assessment or an interim pastor to serve in your church during a time of transition, we’d love to talk with you about the services we provide at VitalChurch Ministry. Get in touch with us today.