Now, no need to worry – I will not soon arrive in your congregation as a new interim. But in May I attended an Interim Ministry Network’s training session to scout what Intentional Interim Ministers are about and whether their work might make sense here.

The idea is that the Intentional Interim Minister will help talk with a congregation about all the good and all the bad the congregation sees in itself. He or she rejoices with them in the good and works with them to talk through the bad.

What I learned was fascinating! It changed my view of the call process as well as interim work.

We often think of someone who can “mind the gap” until the next called pastor arrives when we think of interim ministers, but Intentional Interim Ministers serve an additional purpose – and one which might be helpful to our congregations. Namely, they do all of what you would expect an ordained person to do in an interim, but they also work with the congregation on “their stuff.” The idea is that the Intentional Interim Minister will help talk with a congregation about all the good and all the bad the congregation sees in itself. He or she rejoices with them in the good and works with them to talk through the bad.

There are different ways this is done, but a few of the most immediate and most important are: forming a Transition Team (which is different from the Call Committee), conducting as many one-on-one interviews with congregational members in the first few weeks as possible, and then working together with the Transition Team to understand the information from the interviews and form a plan of work for the congregation. The plan of work informs what the congregation needs to pay attention to BEFORE a Call Committee is formed. That’s right…before the Call Committee is even formed!

The Call Committee can then operate from a position of strength, because they have received feedback in the interim process. When everything goes according to plan (which is, of course, what always happens, right?), the information the Transition Team has gleaned from the interviews with the congregation and the work which followed instructs the Call Committee’s work.

If you have been through a pastoral vacancy in your congregation recently, this may sound a lot different to you! It is! And that is why we are taking a look at this process and considering whether it is something we want to try putting into action.