About Interim Ministry

In the vast majority of cases, the pastoral transition is attended by positive energy. In some cases, however, such transition is attended by a good amount of negative energy. Nonetheless, when a pastor leaves the congregation he/she has served – whether voluntarily or involuntarily – a period of unsettling ensues because a significant dimension of a congregation’s – and a pastor’s - journey has come to an end. The congregation then enters a “between and betwixt” time – an interruption of continuity, an interlude, and a gap. This “in – between” time is a period needing great care.

  • It creates a space wherein a congregation is given the opportunity to intentionally reflect and examine its recent past, history and heritage for the meanings of present experience.
  • It is a gift of time that gives a congregation the opportunity to connect the meanings of these present experiences to the task of imagining a future ministry of the congregation.
  • It is a time to proactively participate in “contextual forecasting” – asking concrete questions about the future ministry of the church in light of its gifts, its surroundings and social reality.

Types of Interim Ministry

The Interim Pastor

The traditional interim pastor functions to provide the routine pastoral services or preaching and leading worship, visitation, officiating at weddings, funerals, attending board/committee meetings as requested by church leadership, and officiating in the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. This is commonly identified as maintenance ministry.

The Intentional Interim Pastor

However, there are special situations when a congregation may need additional time and specialized skills to navigate through a specific developmental issue or set of experiences before they can start a formal pastoral search.

  • If your congregation is in an “in-between” time
  • Has just ended a very long-term pastorate
  • At a critical point in setting new directions for its life and ministry
  • A demographically complex and diverse congregation
  • Experiencing severe or chronic conflict
  • The pastor resigned suddenly or died
  • The pastor left because of professional misconduct

…it is seriously advised that an Intentional Interim Pastor be considered.

The Transitional Pastor

A variety of regressive factors occurring over an extended number of years may combine to create an unsustainable congregation. After a pastor leaves, it is realized that the congregation is dangerously weakened and no longer able to mount a traditional pastoral search. In such situations, a Transitional Pastor is assigned to the congregation with the goal of leading the congregation through intense revitalization. After an agreed upon time when stability is reached, the congregation has the option to either launch a formal pastoral search, or move the transitional pastor into the settled pastor role.

Guidelines For Interim Ministry

Click/tap the button to download ABCNJ expectations for interim ministers, as well as a sample contract churches can use.

The Interim Pastor

Pastors, click/tap the button below to download a resource for understanding your role as an Interim Pastor.