In one of our recent blog posts, we talked about exactly what an intentional interim pastor is, and what it isn’t, according to VitalChurch Ministry. It was a great post for those looking to get a better understanding of interim pastor ministry and how churches can benefit from it. In this blog post, we wanted to dive a little deeper into the subject and discuss the situations in which a church might consider using an intentional interim pastor.
When There’s an Unexpected Vacancy in the Lead Pastor Position
Certainly, the most common reason a church would decide to bring in an intentional interim pastor is when there is no lead pastor in place. In most instances, an interim pastor from VitalChurch is brought in when a lead pastor vacates his position abruptly—either because of a sudden illness or death, or because he left or was let go for whatever reason.
When a lead pastor leaves (or is asked to leave) in a sudden fashion, it affects many aspects of the church. Not only is there no one to preach regularly on Sundays, but there is also a lack of leadership for both the staff and the congregation. In addition, individuals in the church may be mourning the loss of a dear mentor and friend.
It takes a special type of person to meet all of the needs of those in a church without a lead pastor. This is especially true if the departure was controversial (like if a popular, charismatic pastor was fired for a reason that needs to remain confidential).
The intentional interim pastors at VitalChurch are uniquely gifted and highly trained in interim pastor ministry. They know how to lovingly guide a church through a difficult season and prepare them well for the next one. They are trained to do everything from identifying and addressing issues, to leading a church staff, to providing gospel-centered teaching, to facilitating the search for the next lead pastor. We carefully match our pastors with churches based on the church’s needs and the pastor’s specific gifts.
During a Time of Transition
In the best-case scenario, when a lead pastor decides to move on or retire, he will give his church a good amount of notice. This provides the church with adequate time to search for the next lead pastor, without feeling the pressure to go with the first decent option that presents itself. Rushing into hiring a new lead pastor rarely goes well—for the pastor or the church. Even if a church has a gifted associate pastor on staff who is willing to step into the role, a church may still want to take some time to determine whether or not he is the person God is calling to the lead pastor position.
If you are in a church that knows your lead pastor will be leaving, you might want to consider bringing in an intentional interim pastor, even if your current lead pastor has promised to stay until the church finds someone else.
An intentional interim pastor can help prepare the church for its next season of ministry. There may be some issues that have gone unaddressed during the lead pastor’s tenure, or the church may want to consider making some changes before hiring their next lead pastor. A transition period is a great time to do things like shift church culture, consider new methods of discipleship or outreach, or revisit your church’s mission and vision statements (or create them if they don’t currently exist). An intentional interim pastor can help you do all of these things and more.
When a Church Needs an Outside Perspective
On rare occasions, a church will bring in one of our pastors when there is still a lead pastor in place. The church may be going through some conflict or there may be other issues, such as a decline in attendance or questions over the direction the church is going.
If the lead pastor is unable (or unwilling) to adequately address the church’s issues, bringing in an outside pastor may be the answer. He can provide a valuable, unbiased perspective and Godly counsel to church leadership and the congregation regarding the issues they’re facing.
It takes humility for a church and its leaders to admit they need help, but it can be the first step toward healing and revitalization. Our pastors walk with churches through whatever changes need to take place.
The First Step
Whatever the current circumstances of your church, the first step is to go through a thorough church assessment to get an accurate picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your church, as well as the real issues you’re facing. We call this assessment our Diagnostic Analysis, and many churches throughout the country have benefitted from going through the process.
If your church is ready to make some much-needed changes, or if you could benefit from bringing in an intentional interim pastor, contact us to learn more about VitalChurch and our three-phase process of church revitalization. We look forward to hearing from you!