Interim Ministry Resources



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



Interim ministry leaders and pastors are sometimes referred to as ‘transitional ministers.’ Typically we serve in churches, nonprofit organizations, and academia. While serving as an Interim leader, the goals guiding my work in congregations and organizations include:

  • 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 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 intentional interim ministry move through five areas of focus: heritage, mission, leadership, connections, and finally onto the future.

  1. Heritage—coming to terms with the past: This involves 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: This task is typically completed by 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: An interim leader can positively impact governance practices by 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 needed to expand into the future. This can involve strengthening ties with a denomination. For instance in a Presbyterian setting a liaison from the Committee on Ministry may participate in session meetings and in training the Pastor Nominating Committee.
  5. Future—preparing for new leadership by synthesizing discoveries and tending to practical matters such as update bylaws, job descriptions, committee and organizational structures. Identify committees the new pastor is expected to serve on ensuring time commitment is consistent with responsibilities outlined in the job description.  Updating the church pictorial directory in digital (online) and print format can be a real asset for new leadership.