backwards-clock-time-wrongI’ve been working more often lately with interim pastor situations where the congregation is in transition. One thing I’ve found is that people often expect interim situations to go faster than they do.

In reality, if you do the steps well, it takes 9-12 months to accomplish the intended outcomes for an intentional interim ministry. There often needs to be a time of recovery and healing. It’s similar to the breakup of a relationship– whether it was good or bad, it’s usually not a good idea to jump into another one right away.

I’ve listed a sample timeline below, along with outcomes that need to be accomplished along the way. Note that this is the most optimistic timeline. It could be slower depending on the degree of engagement and focus in the congregation. Many churches in transition find themselves in less-than-ideal circumstances, and so will take longer to walk through this process well.

 Stage 1: prepare, pray and listen (3 months)

  • Increase personal and corporate connection with God in worship
  • Mobilize intercessors and congregation for prayer
  • Conduct intensive listening through interviews, focus groups, prayer gatherings to discover what changes would be important to address for greater church health and growth potential.
  • Interim pastor compiles report of findings with recommendations for moving forward.

Stage 2: present recommendations, get buy in, form teams, implement (6 to 9 months)

  • Presentation to congregation of recommendations with open feedback. Board and staff processes and confirms strategic direction
  • Formation of team(s) to determine strategic initiatives, action plans, and take initial steps of implementation
    • Conduct comprehensive community research
    • Cultivate a clearer vision for the church and community
    • Completion of second NCD survey to measure improvement church health and identification of new issues to address

The last month: profile written, search committee equipped, begin search (1 month)

  • Church, community, and pastoral profile written for prospective senior pastor candidates
  • Search committee equipped and re-engages the process

You can use this sample process as a guideline, but there’s no substitute for having an experienced coach walk through the process alongside you. Contact me if you’d like to talk about how I can help you during your pastoral transition.