Why interim ministry?

The most frequent questions I receive as an Intentional Interim Minister usually start with the word “why?” Why do we need an Interim Minister? Why do you want to be an Interim Minister?

Intentional Interim Ministry has developed out of the experience of congregations in certain situations struggling during an interim period or beyond. One situation is when a pastor, like Pastor Schelter, has served a congregation for a significant period of time. Another situation is when there is congregational conflict due to unresolved issues or to clergy misconduct. Our role is to serve as “temporary shepherds” leading the congregation to calmer waters and helping it to resolve issues of the past and turn the attention to a healthy future.

Interim Ministers are trained specialists who have the following goals for an interim period:

  • Maintain the viability of the church
  • Resolve feelings of grief
  • Reinforce the ministry of the laity
  • Clarify the mission of the church
  • Deal with special needs of the congregation
  • Emphasize fellowship and reconciliation
  • Strengthen denominational ties
  • Increase the potential for a successful ministry by the next called pastor

This kind of interim work takes time. But when the congregation commits itself to this process, the end result, more often than not, is renewed vitality and vision. It allows the congregation to then call a pastor whose skills and abilities can help build upon that vitality and lead the congregation into the fulfillment of its vision.

So why do I choose to be an Intentional Interim Minister? I did not start out as an Interim. I have served four congregations as a regularly called pastor, and I enjoyed that work. However, I constantly found myself taking congregations through significant transitions without realizing that was what was taking place. When I realized that this was what I was doing, I developed a sense that serving congregations in transition was my specific call. So, I decided to seek additional training to allow me to pursue this call. Trinity is now my third call as an Interim Pastor.

I see my ministry as one of accompaniment. I accompany a congregation through its time of transition. As part of that accompaniment I work with congregation leaders and other members to develop a strategic plan for the interim time. I am not here to tell you who you are or what you should be. I am here to help you build upon what you already are and have been and then to discern what it is that God is calling you to be.

Serving as an Interim Minister is often bittersweet. The sweet is seeing the excitement of a congregation that is transformed. The bitter (or not so sweet) comes in knowing that an Interim Minister does not establish the depth of relationships that often comes with a regular call.

So, as I enter into my third month of serving as your Interim, I can say that I am glad to be here, and I look forward to accompanying the members of Trinity in this journey.

Yours in Christ,
Dennis Kelly, Interim Pastor