What is an Intentional Interim Pastor?
Your pastor retires, resigns or is fired. Your church is in transition, perhaps even turmoil or conflict about what has happened . . . and what should happen next. Godly direction and leadership is needed. But what do you look for? Someone suggests hiring an Interim Pastor. Then someone says you need an Intentional Interim Pastor. You have never heard that term before. What is an Intentional Interim Pastor and how is this different from hiring an interim?
There is a great difference between a Intentional Interim Pastor and an Interim Pastor. The primary purpose of an Intentional Interim is to move a congregation from point A to point B. Unlike the Interim Pastor who primarily views himself as a pastor or chaplain who preaches and cares for people while the church searches for a new pastor, in contrast the Intentional Interim is a change agent. Typically, the church will not even begin a search for a new pastor until the Intentional Interim has helped the church recognize, address and reconcile the issues present in the church.
By Intentional Interim Pastor we mean:
- Intentional: a person who is pro-active in addressing the systemic issues that have led to conflict in the church, and actively leads the congregation out of conflict into a living community of Christ.
- Interim: a person who agrees to serve for a specific, bounded period of time. His role is, by definition, limited and temporary. (By contract, he cannot and will not be the next pastor.)
- Pastor: a servant leader with proven ability to teach, mentor leaders and shepherd leadership teams; to nurture staff, and to oversee the spiritual health of the congregation. The Intentional Interim will serve as the functional and spiritual leader of the church through the transition process.
Gifts: The gifts of an Intentional Interim are more likely to be in leadership, exhortation and wisdom than mercy or shepherding. By nature an Intentional Interim is an interventionist, a person called, gifted and skilled in leading change and restoring broken community.
Authority: The Intentional Interim Pastor is charged with the specific, temporary task of guiding a church through a season of healing, reconciliation, and systemic change. To accomplish this, the Intentional Interim is granted spiritual authority to lead the church through intentional change, providing a spiritual discovery process for leaders and members to learn what it means to follow Christ, build His Kingdom, and to see God grow a community of believers known for speaking the truth in love. This is accomplished through leadership, mentoring, teaching, and preaching. We recommend that the Intentional Interim Pastor be accountable and report to the church leadership and to regional leadership of the denomination (if applicable).
Role and tasks: The Intentional Interim Pastor will lead and model interdependent team ministry, equipping and empowering others to serve. Typically, more change is accomplished in less time through an Intentional Interim than through a normal pastorate because he is given the task and responsibility to lead change without bias or conflict of interest. Services provided should include:
- Preaching and teaching
- Addressing the systemic leadership issues [communication, vision, decision making, mentoring, team building]
- Overseeing and mentoring church and pastoral staff
- Mentoring and training church leadership (the elders, deacons, boards)
- Building trust and team-based interdependence among ministry leaders
- Communicating openly and frequently with the church body
- Providing instruction for and helping implement church discipline and reconciliation
- Addressing any specific issues defined by a church assessment or evaluation that must be understood, corrected or reconciled prior to hiring the next senior pastor
Length of service: Typically, an Intentional Interim Pastor serves a church for a specific period of time that can range from six months to two years, depending upon the need. The Intentional Interim will provide preaching and teaching on most Sundays and will be on-site, in the church office, for meetings and consultation two or three days during the week. He is available by phone and email when not present. The Intentional Interim cannot and will not be a candidate for any leadership position in the church afterward. This policy is essential so the Intentional Interim can lead with trust, without any real or perceived conflict of interest.
Fee: An Intentional Interim Pastor serves as an independent contractor to the church. The church is expected to pay a consulting fee for this service plus provide for housing, meals and travel expenses. (The fee can vary depending upon the qualification and experience of the Interim. The church should expect to pay at least the amount they were paying their former pastor.)
Finding an Intentional Interim Pastor is quite different from a normal search process. If the church is part of a denomination, we recommend that a regional leader locate and recommend a potential candidate to serve. The church may then consider the candidate through meetings with leadership.
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