As intentional interim pastors, we have worked with many elder boards in churches all over the country, and even in other parts of the world. In fact, it is often a member of an elder board that makes the initial call or sends the initial email inquiring about the services we provide at VitalChurch Ministry.
That first conversation with the church elder usually goes something like this: “Our senior pastor just left/was let go, or is about to leave/be let go. We need an interim pastor to fill the gap while we search for a new senior pastor. Can you help?”
If the loss of the senior pastor was sudden or unexpected, a church’s elder board can find themselves under a lot of pressure to provide a quick solution to fill the vacancy. But in many cases, those who are serving on the elder board are lay leaders who don’t necessarily have the time or the gifts themselves to teach on Sunday mornings, lead a church staff, or do any of the other tasks previously done by the senior pastor. That’s where VitalChurch can step in.
Bringing in an intentional interim pastor from VitalChurch can provide a lot of benefits to the church as a whole, but in speaking with some elders from a church in California that we worked with previously, we were also reminded how an interim pastor can specifically benefit an elder board.
An Interim Pastor Can Be a Much-Needed Neutral Party
Our interim pastors often find themselves in churches where there is a significant amount of conflict. This is totally normal in a church that is experiencing a season of transition—people naturally want to take sides and look for someone to blame when things aren’t going smoothly. An elder board tends to get caught in the middle of this and may be asked to take sides themselves, putting them in uncomfortable situations.
An interim pastor that has no previous ties to the church can offer a much-needed outside perspective to a church’s internal conflict and serve as a sort of “buffer” between the congregation and the elder board. As a neutral party, an interim pastor is able to more easily see a conflict for what it is and speak truth into a situation, since he is not personally tied to one “side” or the other.
He can also offer an unbiased perspective when dealing with an elder board that is divided or whose members are at odds with each other.
An Interim Pastor Can Equip and Elder Board to Deal with Issues
One of the elders we recently spoke with commented that the interim pastors from VitalChurch were very helpful in teaching him and the entire elder board how to deal with difficult situations within the church, and also how to handle people who are angry or upset. He talked about how the VitalChurch team prayed with them and coached them in dealing with issues, and he taught them the difference between “making peace” and “keeping peace” within a body of believers. He said our interim pastor “…brought stability and helped us heal before bringing in a new lead pastor,” and that he felt very equipped to deal with difficult situations moving forward.
They Can Help Bring About Personal and Spiritual Development
Another benefit to this specific group of elders was the personal and spiritual development they experienced from working with VitalChurch. One of the elders commented, “I learned so much about myself and how to rely on God like never before. I grew in my relationship with Jesus through my own personal study, and by watching how [the VitalChurch interim pastor] led our church. I also grew in my relationships with the other board members and developed strong, lasting relationships with all involved.”
Another elder said, “[The VitalChurch pastors] got personal with us. They told us what we had to own as a board and as individuals. It wasn’t easy to hear, but it was the truth, and it was always spoken in the most loving way.”
We don’t come to churches to maintain the status quo. We are looking to bring about revitalization and lasting change—in congregations, in church staffs, and yes, in elder boards. We will provide solid, biblically-based preaching as you search for a new senior pastor, but we will also take your church through our three-phase process that has led to the revitalization of many churches around the world.
We would love to talk more with you about how we can help your church become the vibrant place God intended it to be. Contact us today to learn more.