As of July 4, 2010, I will have completed my 2nd interim pastorate. Having never been a senior pastor of a church before, these interims have been very educational to me – ministerially speaking. I am learning more and more of what it means to be an “interim.”
As an interim pastor, you serve as a bridge-builder. Building a strong bridge between two leaders, truly two eras in the time line of the church.
Your responsibility is to help the congregation through a time of healing and preparation. They will need to heal from the loss of someone they dearly loved and prepare for a new leader who will soon arrive.
I offer these 4 tips for anyone in the interim ministry.
1. Be available, but not pushy – People can be very wary of a “transitional” guy. Make yourself available to the leadership and membership, but don’t force yourself into leadership and pastoral responsibilities unless you are asked. You don’t want an uninvited guest forcing themselves into your house. Sames goes at church.
2. Be honest about your intentions – From the early going, let the people know exactly what you are about. If you are not interested in the full-time post and are not seeking to become a candidate, tell the people right off the bat. This will alleviate any confusion from the onset. Conversely, if you are interested in the position, be up front about that as well. Just keep everything out on the table.
3. Speak often of transition and change – As an interim, you have the unique opportunity to talk openly and outwardly about change, something most pastors and leaders fear. Explain that change is coming. It is an essential part of the growth process. That anything not changing is officially dead. Don’t hide the facts. Help the congregation embrace change and be ready for it when it comes.
4. Support the search committee in everything – Pray for their search. Help them field resumes, if asked. Answer questions about the ministry and the specific needs you see in that particular church. When they give a report, honor their work and diligence. Be a blessing to them, not a hindrance.
Following these tips will allow the interim pastor to fulfill a much needed role in the church and be a small part of God’s redemptive work in that congregation.