Establishing a “Full Service” relationship with Interim Ministry Partners allows the widest range of our resources and experiences to focus on a particular congregation for an extended period of time. (This is our recommended course.)
One of our “Partners” will devote himself and his calendar to the congregation requesting this level of intensive, transformative interaction. He will be with your church three out of four weekends a month (or more, if desired). The focus of his efforts will include:
- Preaching for the Sunday assembly and teaching class (if desired). The Partner understands that one of his prime responsibilities is to provide a consistent pulpit presence that offers a coherent and motivational teaching agenda. The Partner will work with the church’s leadership to determine the particular themes and teachings that are most needed. But some themes are foundational to the interim season and required for congregational transformation: the “call” of God, the “core” gospel, the work of the Holy Spirit, the importance of mission and vision, the nature of pulpit leadership, etc.
- Building a consulting relationship with the shepherds, staff, and targeted ministries of the church. One of the most important contributions we make to a church involves an evaluation of the church’s current health (spiritual, financial, relational, missional, and management/leadership), challenges that interfere with congregational vitality and growth (e.g., conflicts, lack of focus, leader fatigue), and opportunities for the church to grow in relationship to God, each other, and the surrounding community. The Partner will work with church leaders to determine the particular issues that should be addressed. (Every church has “issues”!) But, again, some issues are foundational to the interim season and essential to a church’s future health. We will work to identify those concerns, make recommendations, and help you initiate progress towards your goals.
- Leading the congregation’s search for a new senior minister. The Partner will suggest a search process to follow; help build a functional Search Committee (including an effective Chairman to co-lead); train the Committee in a Spirit-led approach; recommend suitable candidates; and work closely with the Search Committee as they evaluate candidates, communicate with the congregation, and make a recommendation to the elders. This is a “Search” Committee, not a “Selection” Committee. In the end, the Committee will recommend one candidate to the elders—the candidate they believe to be called by God, competent and charactered, to serve the church in the next season of its life. The elders will be responsible to affirm that judgment and invite the candidate to work with the congregation.
This relationship will also require the church to “devote” itself to interim work. Certainly, there is a financial commitment. (You should anticipate that fees and expenses for an interim ministry will be roughly equivalent to the costs of a full-time minister.) But there are other commitments to consider: patience with the time required to do interim work well … a willingness to sustain the intensity involved in an interim work (meetings, self-evaluation, training, etc.) … the courage to make congregational changes that lead to a healthier future. Although the financial commitment to an interim ministry is substantial, it is the least “expensive” commitment the congregation will make. “Counting the cost” of entering into an interim relationship is critical to the success of this relationship.
A Few Logistics
The normal arrangement is for the Partner to fly (or drive) to your city on Saturday mornings, meet through the afternoon and evening with members of your congregation (e.g., leaders, focus groups, various demographic segments of the church), teach and preach on Sunday mornings, meet with the Search Committee Sunday afternoons, and fly (or drive) home on Sunday nights. Though the time spent with “boots on the ground” is relatively brief, the interactions are intense and demanding enough to challenge most churches and their leaders.
Expect this interim relationship to last nine to twelve months. It takes time to:Build a relationship of trust with a congregation.
- Do the “homework” necessary to discover a congregation’s character and calling, its mission and ministries. (Until a church knows who it is, it cannot identify who it needs.)
- Develop a vision for the church that is clear, compelling, and commonly embraced.
- Establish and train an effective Search Committee.
- Craft a definitive description of the person we are looking for: characteristics, skills, spiritual gifts, experience, etc.
- Surface and cultivate high-potential, highly skilled and charactered candidates.
- Identify and address significant issues that hinder growth and health in the congregation.
The Working Agreement we sign with churches is for a period of three months. Extensions to that Agreement allow us to lengthen the time of our partnership with a church—at your discretion. You make the decision to maintain (or terminate) your relationship with Interim Ministry Partners on the basis of your assessment of our effectiveness.
Pros and Cons of a Full Service Relationship
- Most comprehensive level of service
- High consistency and stability during the interim season
- An experienced and skilled Partner is focused on your congregation
- Maximizes the opportunity for congregational transformation
- Brings outside expertise to bear on issues that are not easily addressed by internal resources
- Costly in dollars, time, and energy