Interim Ministry Tools


A growing collection of resources for worship,
preaching, and leadership in the church and beyond

Interim ministry goals

  • Endeavor on a daily basis to do the tasks and ministry necessary to insure the success of the next installed pastor/organizational leader.

  • Maintain the viability of the congregation by finding out everything possible about them from peers: such as the Presbytery, neighboring pastors/congregations, community leaders, etc.

  • Resolve feelings of grief: identifying issues that must be resolved during the interim period, and discerning which ones should wait for the next leader to address.

  • Reinforce the ministry of the laity: getting to know the congregation, especially the boards and committees focusing on history, service, worship, power structures, and other vital needs.

  • Craft a clear roadmap*: communicating where we are at each step in the process of calling a new pastor/leader.

  • Clarify the mission of the church/organization: conduct a mission study suitable for use by the nominating committee, new leadership, and other entities.

  • Identify and resolve special needs in the staff and other constituents.

  • Nurture an abundance of fellowship among the congregation and their friends.

  • Seek reconciliation in strained relationships.

  • Guide the work of governing bodies to form, train, and expedite the work of the nominating committee to seek the next pastor/leader, and

  • Say good-bye.


"Every branch that bears fruit he prunes, 
that it may bear more fruit."

John 15:2



The tasks of interim ministry typically move through five areas of focus: heritage, mission, leadership, connections, and finally onto the future. This work may progresses chronologically or take place simultaneously.

  1. Heritage—coming to terms with the past helping the congregation talk honestly about their history together and coming to a common narrative about their story. Offering a variety of formats for interaction is helpful. Listening Circles is small group model. A sermon series exploring an epistle to the early church lends naturally to the task. I have found the book of Philippians to work well in both a historic downtown small city church and a larger suburban church.

  2. Mission—renewing identity conducting a church mission study. Read more about conducting a mission study and review some examples in this blog post .

  3. Leadership—strengthening patterns of lay leadership inviting new patterns of leadership to emerge. For example introducing peer evaluations to governing boards. If this practice is unfamiliar to the church the Interim Pastor may consider asking officers who serve on outside boards to guide the process.

  4. Connection—discovering vital relationships and networks strengthening ties with the larger church body, denomination, and affiliations.

  5. Future—preparing for new leadership synthesizing discoveries and tending to practical matters such as update bylaws, job descriptions, committee and organizational structures. Identify in what ways the new pastor is expected to serve, ensuring time commitment is consistent with responsibilities outlined in the job description.