Frequently asked questions regarding Intentional Interim Ministry.
How does one go about getting an Intentional Interim Ministry pastor?
In some cases, the district has its own interim ministry coordinator. This would be the person to contact. If your district does not have an Intentional Interim Ministry Program, the best option is to contact the Interim Ministry Conference, LCMS at
. Please provide a phone number, so you can be contacted directly.
How long does an Intentional Interim Ministry pastor serve a congregation?
This depends on many factors, but typically from one year to two years. The factors depend on the condition of the congregation, the depth of the challenge at hand and congregational leadership. Length of interim ministry is one of the early conversations a congregation will have with a potential interim pastor. It should be noted, as a congregation prepares to receive their next permanent pastor, the length of the call is not as important as the health of the church.
Can I get the same benefits from a vacancy pastor as from an intentional interim minister?
A vacancy pastor (also occasionally called an interim pastor) does meet certain needs of congregations, but is not trained to provide ministry, insight and guidance during the time of transition and crisis.
What is the involvement of the district?
Some districts provide and sustain an Intentional Interim Ministry program in their district, including consultation and supervision. In all cases, the district president and staff will be involved in helping to determine the need for an intentional interim minister and, additionally, help the congregation formulate goals and parameters for the interim period. The district can also assist in identifying an intentional interim minister to serve the congregation and negotiate an acceptable contract.
What is the structure of Intentional Interim Ministry training?
The training program consists of an initial one-day discernment training for pastors considering the Intentional Interim Ministry, basic training (two separate weeks of formal training, plus approximately six-months of fieldwork) and continuing education (normally under the auspices both of either the National Association of Lutheran Interim Pastors - NALIP, or the Interim Ministry Network - IMN). These training programs are offered annually at various sites, including Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
What is the process a church will go through?
There are five phases a congregation will encounter during the Intentional Interim Ministry process.
- Dealing with its history in an honest way - talking through the disputes, strengths and challenges, and the positives and negatives of past pastorates.
- Broadening leadership. During the interim, lay leadership often changes as leaders resign and opportunities open up to a wider pool of people. During the Intentional Interim Ministry, there's an opportunity to build on these internal shifts.
- Defining its identity. During the interim, the congregation uses tools, such as self study and demographics, to discern its own idendity.
- Strengthening the relationship with the district. Normally, the pastor of the congregation is the de facto channel to the district. When this link no longer exists, new channels of communication can open up, redefining relationships with the larger church body.
- Determining a new direction for ministry and mission. When the temptation to simply follow the pastor is gone, new ideas bubble up from the congregation. The window to the future is opened to allow the wind of the Spirit to challenge a congregation to answer the question, "what is God calling us to do, at this time and in this place?"
How do I start an Intentional Interim Ministry program in my district?
Intentional Interim Ministry is available to all districts, even if they do not have their own program. A district interested in setting up its own program can call the Interim Ministry Conference for a presentation. Representatives are available to explain how Intentional Interim Ministry works in further detail.
The Interim Ministry Conference, LCMS, will work with you to tailor interim ministry to your needs. Districts with these programs have developed different and creative services.
Once a district shows interest in Intentional Interim Ministry, representatives can present at conferences and offer training through NALIP for those interested in becoming interim pastors.