Intentional Interim Pastor Ministry for Churches in Transition
When a church finds itself in a time of transition without a lead pastor, employing an intentional interim pastor is often the best solution for the health of the church. The intentional interim pastors at VitalChurch function not as consultants, but as pastors, with each bringing his own pastoral gifts and strengths to bear on the intentional interim process. Our pastors are not looking to maintain the status quo, but to act as Christ-centered agents of change for churches facing difficult circumstances. This is done with an emphasis on grace.
Ultimately, the intentional interim pastors at VitalChurch are seeking to discover where God is leading the church, and then to work with the church to graciously guide the congregation and leadership there. The process typically begins with a diagnostic analysis and then often includes leadership training, Christ-centered preaching, governance upgrades, and the establishment of (or a renewed commitment to) the mission and vision of the church. Our work may also include:
- Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation
- Ministry Team Development
- Discipleship Process Evaluation and Development
- Church Staff Care and Development
- Lay Leadership Development
- Lead Pastor Search Process
- Change Management
- Organizational Development
- Theological Reboot (as needed)
VitalChurch believes that the gospel changes everything, and in particular, the gospel changes people! Scripture uses the term “heart” to describe the essential part of a person’s life. The heart is the drive shaft of the soul and includes the mind, the will, and the emotions. Therefore, at VitalChurch, we believe gospel change is wholistic change. It’s been our experience that Christians are often more than willing to address issues of the mind (how they think and what they believe). They are also open to address issues of the will (how they live and the choice to obey). But the emotional piece is often almost insurmountable. Difficult emotions related to grief and loss, anger, fear, and past history more often than not accompany a church that’s in transition. The VitalChurch staff won’t ignore those difficult emotional issues.
Therefore, a church must be willing to address anything that hinders the health of the body in order to become a vital and vibrant congregation. We ask that church leaders answer “yes” to three questions:
- Will we face the real issues?
- Will we own our part of the problems?
- Will we do what is necessary to change?
A church and a business are not the same. VitalChurch’s intentional interim pastors treat the church as a body—a living organism indwelt by the Holy Spirit—where people’s lives come before the financial or organizational bottom line. Having said that, our interim pastors also routinely work with existing church leaders to sharpen the operational functions and clarify the church governance model so that church leaders are functioning biblically and effectively.
FAQs About Intentional Interim Pastors
How long do VitalChurch’s intentional interim pastors serve in a church?
The timeframe is based on the specific needs of the church, but typically our interim pastors serve at churches for 12-24 months.
Will the intentional interim pastor change our church’s doctrinal statement, denomination, or congregational distinctives?
An intentional interim pastor carries out the agreed upon goals of the congregation they serve. So, for example, if a congregation feels that it is important to reconsider its doctrinal statement, the intentional interim pastor will facilitate that reconsideration. The intentional interim pastor will facilitate the development of a doctrinal statement that lines up with the theology of the church they are serving. In other words, the intentional interim pastor will not come into a church and insert his own doctrinal statement.
Do VitalChurch’s interim pastors help facilitate the search for a permanent lead pastor?
Yes. We come alongside your pastoral search team or elder board to help find a lead pastor that will fit the needs of your church. We also work to prepare your church as a whole to be a healthy and safe place for your next pastor.
Do you provide intentional interim pastors for denominational churches?
Yes. In our more than 25 years in interim pastoral ministry, we have worked with churches of many different denominations. During the intentional interim pastor’s time at your church, he will maintain communication with denominational or associational leadership to keep a level of organizational accountability intact.
Do you provide intentional interim pastors for independent churches?
Yes. We will work with any church of any denomination that holds to the essentials of the Christian faith.
Can we hire someone from your team as an interim pastor without going through the diagnostic analysis?
Our experience has taught us that the diagnostic analysis is a necessary step in the process of true church revitalization, and therefore, we do not forego this step. However, we will, on occasion, staff an intentional interim pastor at a church prior to the completion of the diagnostic analysis.
Does intentional interim pastoring have scriptural support?
The term “intentional interim pastor” is never used in the Old or New Testaments, but the idea of a Christian leader coming into a situation to effect God’s change is well documented. For example, the book of Nehemiah in its entirety is the story of how Nehemiah intervenes for change in the life of post-exilic Israel. The book of Titus is the story of how Paul sends Titus to the island of Crete to intervene and problem-solve in the churches there.
What will it take for our church to actually change?
More often than not, change is the result of a deep brokenness and humility that comes upon the people of God. Where there is great humility, there is great grace (James 4:6)! Therefore, we invite a congregation to come to a place of surrender before God and others. Furthermore, this change is often facilitated when members of the body of Christ humbly seek to reconcile with each other over their differences.