Next Sunday, Hurstbourne Baptist Church in Louisville will come together to extend a call to my friend and current student pastor Bro. Cameron Debity. If all goes well, this means interim pastorate no. 6 is coming to a close.
With each of these six churches and interim contexts, I have learned new lessons about this type of ministry and church leadership in general. Here are a few lessons I picked up this time around.
1. Even in the city, rural-like hospitality still works. There is an assumption that when you live in a major city with hundreds of thousands of people no one wants you in their home or at their table. While that can be true in some places, I found at HBC that there was still a sweet sense of in-home hospitality. There hasn’t hardly been a Sunday in over 6 months where we didn’t have an invitation to a home for lunch. Maybe this is only because I am the pastor, but it is so good to see that table fellowship is still alive.
2. People of means have the same basic needs as people who struggle. HBC is located in a rather affluent section of Louisville. Many of the attenders are, or have been in the past, very successful men and women in their line of work. One might think because of their status in life they don’t need anything, but that is not true. It doesn’t matter how much is in the checking account or sitting in mutual funds, people are still people. And people have needs. No matter who you are or what you earn, people struggle with sin. People struggle with relationships. People struggle making Jesus first and foremost in their lives.
3. When there are multiple staff members and a senior pastor moves on, the primary goal is to embolden and champion the staff who remain. This was the first time in any interim where I had a rather large team remaining – 6 full-time teammates, each who were competent, flexible, and really strong in their particular areas of service. I found the key in this interim was to let them loose. To challenge them to go big or go home. To praise them publicly and privately and encourage them to boost their ministry areas 5-fold. The outcome was the church never felt like we were in an “interim.” We were able to create momentum which turned the interim phase into a season of advance, not a season of survival.
If all goes well, my last day at Hurstbourne Baptist Church will be August 10. This has been one of the best interim experiences I’ve had. Lots of heart connections. Lots of great times together in worship. Lots of meaningful conversations. This experience is going to be hard to match.
Who knows where interim no. 7 might land us next.