I want to spend a moment of your time talking about the essential factors that an interim pastor should keep in mind to successfully lead a congregation through a transition period while maintaining a positive environment and allowing the search committee to find the next permanent pastor. I’ll speak directly to the interim pastor, but the congregation should read this as well.
As an interim pastor, your role is crucial in maintaining stability and providing direction for the church during the transition period. Your job is to lead the congregation in a positive direction while allowing the search committee to find the next permanent pastor. To be effective in this role, there are a few key points to keep in mind.
First, it is essential to be a non-anxious presence in the church. Interim periods can be tumultuous times for congregations, with anxiety levels running high. Therefore, one of the most significant things you can do is to remain calm, positive, and reassuring. Encourage open communication, listen to concerns, and offer guidance where necessary. Remember, your calmness will help calm others in the church.
Second, preaching solid bible-based sermons that give Biblical knowledge and a thirst for Scripture is vital. The Bible is the foundation of Christian faith, and the sermons you deliver should reflect that. Your job is to help the congregation understand and appreciate the Bible’s teachings, develop a deeper relationship with God, and build a stronger faith community. Your sermons should inspire people to study the Bible on their own, and this can lead to a better understanding of their faith.
Third, performing pastoral care is essential. In an interim period, people may feel lost and disconnected. They may not know how to deal with their emotions or who to turn to. As an interim pastor, it is your job to provide pastoral care to everyone in the church. Reach out to people who may be struggling, visit those who are sick or homebound, and offer a listening ear to those who need it.
Fourth, provide a cushion for the search committee to do their work without worrying about the church’s needs during the interim. Be mindful that the search committee is working hard to find the next permanent pastor, and they need to focus on that task. You can help by ensuring the church runs smoothly, providing leadership where necessary, and allowing the search committee to do their work without any distractions.
Don’t Do This
Now, let’s take a look at some of the things that you should avoid doing during your interim period. First, don’t spend much time creating a mission statement or purpose statement. These are things that should be done by the next permanent pastor, as they will have a better understanding of the church’s needs and direction. Your job is to maintain the church’s existing mission and purpose until the next pastor arrives.
Second, don’t preach strategy sermons. While it may be tempting to share your vision for the church’s future, it is important to remember that this is not your role as an interim pastor. Strategy should be left to the next permanent pastor, who will have a better understanding of the church’s needs and direction.
Lastly, don’t set the standards so high that the “new kid on the block” won’t be able to live up to them. It is important to remember that your role is to maintain the church’s existing standards and values, not to set new ones. By setting unattainable standards, you risk setting the next permanent pastor up for failure.
In conclusion, being an interim pastor is a significant responsibility that requires careful consideration and attention to detail. By being a non-anxious presence, preaching solid Bible-based sermons, providing pastoral care, and providing a cushion for the search committee, you can help maintain stability and direction during the interim period. At the same time, it is essential to avoid creating a mission statement or purpose statement, preaching strategy sermons, and setting unattainable standards. Remember, your role is to maintain the existing church’s values and standards until the next permanent pastor arrives.
Randy White is the founder and CEO of Dispensational Publishing House, Inc. He teaches Bible online at www.RandyWhiteMinistries.org and preaches at the Taos (NM) First Baptist Church.
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