What is an intentional interim pastor?
That’s a question I’ve been asked so many times in the last month. Even Siri doesn’t know that term. Test her.
I didn’t see this one coming, but intentional interim pastor is another addition to where God has led Cheryl and me in this new season of ministry.
If you’re still catching up, I recently resigned as CEO of Leadership Network. I’m going to be doing a combination of things on my own. You can read about the process in a previous post.
That post talks about where we are headed long-term, but recently I accepted a temporary assignment that will fill some of my time for a season. I’m still doing consulting (let me know if you need help), but I’ve also agreed to serve as an Intentional Interim Pastor at First Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Money magazine recently named Clarksville, Tennessee as the number one place to live in America. Just Northwest of Nashville, we will still be less than an hour to our granddaughters. We are also less than 4 hours to our son and his wife in St. Louis (and their soon coming daughter). Eventually we still plan to end up living in Nashville. We sold our home in Dallas (praise God for the quick sell) and have rented a place in Clarksville with a 6 month lease and a month-to-month option from there.
Clarksville is our hometown. It’s a proud military town, with most of the soldiers and families of Fort Campbell’s Army base living in the city. Some of our best friends are military connected. I was a business owner here, had a long-time local radio program, served on dozens of nonprofit boards, and even as an elected official. By God’s grace we also planted a successful church here. I know the community well.
First Baptist is our home church. It was here I served as an active member until I surrendered to vocational ministry at the age of 38. My mom says I started attending regularly at 2 weeks of age. I have family members still in the church. I can’t walk the halls and not recall my grandparents walking them too. Most of the significant spiritual markers in our life happened here. We love the church.
First Baptist is considered by many to be a “legacy” church among Southern Baptists. It has long been one of the leading churches in the state and denomination. They are nearing 200 years of local, regional, state and national mission work. It has a huge footprint in downtown Clarksville.
Like many established churches, First Baptist has been in decline for a number of years, but recently has found itself in some very difficult days. This is an opportunity to hopefully help reposition them back to where they can be the church God has allowed them to be.
So, you may still have the question, “What is an intentional interim pastor?“
I like to give short answers when I can.
It’s an interim pastor who is intentional.
Sometimes the term transitional pastor is used, but basically I’ll be doing most everything a senior pastor would normally do, but the understanding is it is not permanent.
In the interim, I’ll be leading the church staff, teaching regularly on Sunday mornings, and, most importantly, helping the church stabilize, restore hope and a return to their core mission. Lord willing, I will ultimately help in a healthy transition to their next senior pastor. In an ideal setting, I will be here until that person is named and we can overlap enough for a smooth transition.
I won’t be doing a lot of hospital or care visits, although the church is wonderful at this part of its ministry and we will want that to continue. Instead my focus will be more on the leadership and structure of the church. In my experience, that’s how organizational changes are made.
Some things true of most intentional interims:
- They are not candidates for the permanent position.
- Intentional interims are called in times of significant need in the church. It could be after a crisis, significant decline, or a season or history of unhealthiness.
- These pastors typically try to address issues that can hopefully set the next senior pastor up for success. This could involve getting difficult decisions out of the way, but certainly restoring hope and purpose.
Pray for us as we embark on this journey. This is somewhat of a temporary detour for us, but one we feel confident the Lord has lead us to take.
I will still be taking consulting clients. In fact, I need to in order to meet the budget we’ve set for ourselves and to prepare for my next season. If I can help you or your church please let me know. (For my Immanuel friends, I’ll still honor my commitment to teaching there some in 2020.)
I also am working on some other exciting plans for the months ahead. Stay tuned.