Transitions can be tough. Very few people like change, and those in churches are no different. Hiring an interim pastor to help transition from one lead pastor to the next can help “soften the blow,” but even transitioning from an interim pastor to a new senior pastor can be tough. People get used to a certain style of leadership and preaching, and sometimes the “new” can feel “wrong.”
At VitalChurch, our interim pastors know that transition is difficult, and they do everything they can to help the process go as smoothly as possible and set the church’s next senior pastor up for success. Here are a few of the ways we help facilitate the transition from interim pastor to the next senior pastor:
We Make it Clear that Our Interim Pastors Are Only a Temporary Solution
As we mentioned in our previous blog post, VitalChurch’s interim pastors are not allowed to be considered for the church’s next senior pastor position. This policy helps congregations to keep looking forward and prevents them from holding on too tightly to their attachment to their interim pastor. By no means do our interim pastors discourage forming close relationships and bonds with the people in the churches in which they serve, but they do always point them toward what is next for the church.
We Get Things Organized for the Next Pastor
Many of the churches we work with have never taken the time to put into writing things like policies and procedures. Or they may have processes that are outdated or no longer serving the church well. And in many churches, the roles of their elders and even staff members are unclear.
When our interim pastors come in, they take the time to look at all of the church’s established policies and procedures (or lack thereof), evaluate their processes, and go over all job descriptions. They make recommendations to the church’s leadership, and then begin helping them implement any needed changes. By the time the interim period is complete and the church is ready to hire a new senior pastor, systems have been put in place and structure has been established that will help the transition happen much more smoothly. The new senior pastor can spend his first few months in his new church getting to know the people instead of having to overhaul the organizational side of things or work within a dysfunctional system.
Major Conflicts Within the Church Are Resolved
No church is devoid of conflict, but churches in a period of transition or crisis tend to have more conflict than normal. Our interim pastors are trained in biblical conflict resolution. They are also experienced pastors who have pretty much seen it all when it comes to disagreements between people in churches. They take the time to discover the church’s real issues (not just the surface issues) and address them, and they work hard to bring about reconciliation when it’s needed.
When the next senior pastor comes, he doesn’t need to immediately begin solving pressing issues or taking sides against one faction of the congregation or another since the major issues have already been addressed by the interim pastor. He can simply focus on leading the church into their next phase of ministry.
A Mission and Vision is Established and Agreed Upon
We believe that a church should have an established mission and vision of its own before bringing in a new senior pastor, rather than relying on a pastor to bring his own mission and vision to the church. We hear all the time about a new pastor coming to a church and trying to fundamentally change it to match his own personal mission or vision. Sometimes a pastor is successful, but more often than not, these pastors don’t last long in their new church.
A church that knows who they are and in what direction God is calling them as a body will hire a pastor who shares their ideals. They are able to communicate their mission and vision to their pastoral candidates during the pastoral search process, and any potential senior pastor will know exactly what he will be stepping into. There will be less of a chance that he will come in and immediately try to make radical changes to the church.
In our experience, churches with a well-established and agreed-upon mission and vision have a much better transition period than those without.
Contact VitalChurch for Interim Pastor Services
As we stated in the beginning, we realize that leadership transitions are tough for congregations. But when you work with an organization like VitalChurch that has been helping churches through these types of changes for many years, the process is much easier for everyone involved. Contact us today if your church could benefit from the interim pastor services offered by VitalChurch.