Many (but not all) of the churches we work with are in a crisis situation when one of our interim pastors arrives on the scene. Some churches have the luxury of knowing ahead of time that their lead pastor will be vacating his position. It may be that the lead pastor has decided that it’s time for him to retire. Or he may be moving on to a position at another church or leaving the ministry in favor of another career path. In these cases, the pastor will ideally give his church plenty of notice and time to find a new lead pastor.
Even in non-crisis situations like these, many churches have found it extremely beneficial to bring in an intentional interim pastor to bridge the gap between the lead pastor who is leaving and the one who will be his permanent replacement.
Here are four reasons why a church should consider bringing on an interim pastor when they are transitioning to a new pastor:
Time to Get it Right
The last thing you want to do when hiring a new lead pastor is to rush into the decision. Even if you are fairly certain that the best decision is to promote another pastor who is already on your staff, it is wise to take the time to really seek the Lord’s will for your church. Bringing in an intentional interim pastor can give your church the buffer it needs to make sure your next steps are the right ones and will take your church in the direction you want it to go.
Help with the Pastoral Search Process
Some churches know exactly who they are and are ready to look for a new pastor who will lead them in the direction they are already going. But many churches don’t have a clear vision or mission, making it difficult to know what type of pastor they should be looking for in the pastoral search process.
Churches that work with an intentional interim pastor from VitalChurch go through a process of either establishing or renewing the church’s commitment to their mission and vision. From there, it is easier for a church to know what type of pastor will be the best equipped to lead the church in ministry. In other words, the church will be in a better position to find a pastor who is aligned with the values of the church.
An interim pastor from VitalChurch can also help facilitate the pastoral search process—something we’ve done many times with great success.
Take Some Pressure Off of Your Staff
When a lead pastor leaves—even if it’s a well-planned exit—it puts a lot of pressure on the remaining staff. Staff and elders are left to fill in the gaps—and we’re not just talking about preaching on Sundays. Lead pastors often take on many roles and those things still need to be done. Bringing in an interim pastor to lead your church will allow the rest of your staff to remain in their current roles and do what they do best!
Better Success for the Next Lead Pastor
It has been well documented that when a popular or long-serving lead pastor leaves a church, the subsequent lead pastor has a very low chance of success. This can be due to a lot of reasons. The congregation may have felt extremely bonded to the former pastor and never really gets behind the new lead pastor. Or the former pastor may have avoided addressing certain issues in the church that developed under his tenure. Or it could be that the congregation wasn’t prepared for the changes that the new pastor would bring with him.
An experienced interim pastor can address all of these issues and more. Intentional interim pastors are trained to specifically deal with churches as they transition to a new lead pastor. The goal is that at the end of the interim pastor’s tenure, the church will be a healthy and vibrant place for the next lead pastor. The church will already have made the necessary and hard changes, and will have a clear mission and vision that the new pastor can step into.
Interim pastors aren’t just for churches that are in an obvious crisis situation. Any church in the process of transitioning from one lead pastor to another can benefit from an interim pastor ministry like VitalChurch. If you’d like to learn more about VitalChurch and how we’ve helped Christian churches all over the country, contact us through our website.