Interim or Interruption? A Look at Pastoral Interim Life

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Whether following a lengthy or brief pastorate, the interim pastor plays a significant role. Whether a trained interim specialist, or someone with experience and a measure of common sense, the interim pastor helps the congregation come to terms with what sort of person should they be seeking to secure as their new pastor. The days of searching the Yearbook for names of those who've served their congregation past the 4 indentured years is gone. Even the smallest, remotest, or most troublesome congregations want to take some time to consider the kind of leader, pastor, and congregant that they want him/her to be. Doing so takes some time of discussion and reflection. An interim who brings his unique gifts to that congregation helps accomplish such consideration, even if it's a matter of concluding, "Certainly not someone like Rev. Knows-too-much." 

The "dating dance' that congregations do can appear rather erratic, switching between waltzing slowly and the almost forgotten maccarena (I even forgot how to spell it). An experienced interim can certainly be most effective in helping a church determine the right person, while giving time for the church to recover if necessary or simply enjoying the change or variety while awaiting a new diet to be brought by their new pastor. As such, the interim serves as a preparation, not as an interruption. The church has opportunity to discover its identity as it explains to the interim, "We do it this way here."  It's not the interim's job to impose whatever successful way of doing things that are part of his experience. He's the interim and he must help the congregation determine its direction, its way of doing things. Having several interims serve them can help the congregation as it dates and dines possible choices. 

Having completed another interim, I feel that I helped the congregations reflect and discuss what sort of person would best serve that particular congregation. My being there, and the time of others also spending time with them, helped solidify their expectations. It's a learning experience for both interim and the congregation. Being specifically trained for such work may be needed in extreme cases, but loving Christ's church and its members will be blessed. I conclude by encouraging pastors to consider such a ministry before settling down to golf or getting groceries, while also suggesting that churches do the same. You'll be glad you did!

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