Interim Ministry

me-at-botbFor the past fourteen months, I served as an interim, or transitional, pastor to a Lutheran (ELCA) congregation whose pastor had retired, after 38 years in the same church!   My task was to help the congregation through the initial transition ~ through some of the grieving and confusion that followed its pastor’s departure, and into some of the questions about change and possibility which had suddenly surfaced.  None of us knew quite what to expect, but we developed a deep and loving relationship and pursued healthy ministry together.

I had done a week’s worth of training for interim pastors ~ a specialized ministry ~ and completed a second week while I was with my congregation.  I spent a lot of time during my last month there reassuring folks about how wonderful it would be to welcome a new, settled pastor, and preaching about preparation for the future.

Nevertheless, I was unprepared for how disoriented I myself would be when my time with them ended.  I had a couple of interviews with other churches during my last week, but neither panned out (for quite different reasons).  In the nearly two weeks since, I have been feeling drained and unmotivated to take the next steps needed to secure employment.   I recognize the signs of grief, and am trying to give myself a break and the time needed to regroup from yet another loss.

It seems that interim ministry makes excellent use of my particular gifts and skills.  But there is this pesky little problem of falling in love with a congregation and then having to say good-bye . . .

7 thoughts on “Interim Ministry

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    1. I did the PC(USA) training: I think it’s fairly similar for all mainline denominations. I did Week 1 because someone said it was one of the best leadership trainings you could do, whether you had any interest in interim ministry or not, and I’d say that turned out to be true. Elaine above was at the same training; maybe she agrees? The official name now is transitional ministry and, in reality, all churches are in transition. I did Week 2, which was mostly focused on case studies we brought to the table, when I was 4 months or so into my first interim. There is a national organization for transitional ministry that I’m sure you can find by googling. I would say that as a calling it’s much more appropriate for someone more geographically free than I am. That said, it’s a great calling if you enjoy leading and encouraging change.

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  1. Week I was a good experience for me as well. (It was the first time I met Robin IRL, too!) I found it fascinating to hear people share why they were there. For me is was a process of discernment about interim ministry. Two years later, I am in my first interim/transitional position. The information gleaned at week I is excellent for any pastor.

    The frustrating part for me was finding positions. In my denomination, PCUSA, we maintain an online system for churches looking for pastors etc. However, most churches searching for transitional ministers may not use that and rely directly on word-of-mouth and who you know. My current call did post their resume in the online system and I am glad they did.

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