INTENTIONAL INTERIM MINISTRY = BEST PRACTICE
Texas Baptists’ Intentional Interim Ministry (IIM) is the best-practice process recognized today for churches proactively handling the challenges of transition from one pastor to another. Intentionally managing the transition process through the assistance of certified intentional interim pastors represents Texas Baptists’ commitment to a level of superior service to pastorless churches.
If you are part of a church living in an interim period between pastors, be sure to acquaint yourself with the difference between the Intentional Interim Ministry process and a traditional interim process. Then select the interim process most suitable for your church.
Overview of Intentional Interim Ministry Process
- Intentional Interim Ministry is not a program. It is a process. Programs are methods that can be repeated in identical format from place to place. The Intentional Interim Ministry process has distinctives which contribute to its uniqueness.
- After consultation with Texas Baptists’ Interim Church Services team and onsite meetings with church leaders and the congregation, your church votes to engage the Intentional Interim Ministry process during your period between pastors. the Interim Church Services team will identify potential Intentional Interim Pastor candidates from the trained and certified pastors in the IIM Network.
- With the assistance of your Intentional Interim Pastor, your church forms a Transition Team made of elected church leaders. This team is made up of trusted, spiritual, and wise leaders from the congregation. The Transition Team looks like a microcosm of the church.
- The Transition Team does not take over the church. It does not do the work for the church. Instead, the team’s role is to develop strategies to engage the congregation in each process so that the church body will be impacted by the study and so the church members will feel ownership of decisions made in the interim period.
- The Intentional Interim Pastor doesn’t become the leader of the church; he becomes the coach to a Transition Team. The Transition Team, a customized leadership group for the church, helps lead the church in an intentional time of self-examination and reflection.
- The Intentional Interim Pastor and the church’s Transition Team craft a unique process tailored for each particular church, including identifying Focus Point issues that need to be looked at before the next pastor arrives, preparing the health of the church for the next pastor, and identifying the type of leader who needs to be called next for the church.
- The church delays the formation of a Pastor Search Committee until the major work of the self-study is completed. Delaying the pastor search activities actually cuts the overall search process by months, since the church has renewed clarity and strategic focus on the kind of pastor they are seeking.
- The “genius” behind Intentional Interim Ministry is that the Interim Pastor must rely on the lay leadership of the church. It is the lay leadership that knows the church, the church’s culture, and the church’s history. The Interim Pastor “coaches” the Transition Team on the process, but it is the Team that leads out in deciding what issues need to be tackled as they select the Focus Points that need attention. The Team knows how best to get the congregation engaged in processing the issues, and the Team knows when each Focus Point has been adequately addressed.
- The intentional process also means that the Transition Team is responsible for knowing when the church is ready to wrap up the self-study and begin the work of finding a new pastor.
Video: An Overview of Intentional Interim Ministry
Intentional Interim Pastor Requirements and Qualifications
Entering into an IIM process necessitates that a church call an interim pastor who has completed the professional IIM training (caution: there are a few who use the IIM credential without having completed the training).
All the IIM pastors on the Texas Baptists’ Intentional Interim Pastor referral list meet the following requirements:
- Completion of Interim Ministry for Today’s Church course or equivalent
- Evidence of significant ministerial experience before entering IIM training
- Successful completion of a professional background check conducted by the Center for Congregational Health prior to acceptance into IIM training
- Successful completion of the IIM residential lab and field work (including 85 classroom hours)
- Successfully passing a Sexual Misconduct background check by the BGCT
- Continued membership in YCORE (a professional group for IIM pastors)
- Completion of ten hours of interim ministry continuing education per year
- Participating in a Reflection review of one’s performance after every IIM pastorate
The IIM pastor is ideally the “pastor during the interim.” A written covenant will detail all the expectations of the IIM pastor, ranging from part-time to full-time ministries (preaching, pastoral care, administration, supervision, etc.)
In some circumstances, a church may elect to call an IIM Consultant, who guides the self-study while the church uses a different person as the interim pastor.
The covenant will also detail compensation, length of covenant (including extending the covenant or canceling the covenant), the IIM process, and the agreement that the IIM pastor CANNOT be considered for the permanent pastor’s position.
How Do We Know if Our Church Needs the Intentional Interim Model?
The Intentional Interim Ministry process can help any church, but it is specifically recommended for churches with one of the following profiles:
- After a Long-Tenured Pastor Leaves the Church
After a long-serving pastor leaves, the next pastor is often referred to as the “unintentional interim.” The new pastor arrives with vision and energy but doesn’t measure up to the former pastor. Attempts at change fail, and the new pastor leaves after a very short tenure (sometimes taking a significant number of people to form a new church). An intentional interim process addresses separation issues with a former pastor and how to prepare for the arrival of the next pastor.
- When a Church has Lost Its Energy
A church that has plateaued, is in decline, or has no strong vision for the future may think a new pastor can fix all those problems. Unfortunately, most churches fit this category, yet most churches continue to do traditional search time and time again, and the church continues its decline. IIM practices the priesthood of the believer. Even though the permanent pastor may not be present, the people of God are still there. So, the congregation comes together to discover a vision for where the church should be heading.
- When a Church has Experienced Significant Internal Conflict
Some church leaders may not want to consider using the Intentional Interim Ministry process for fear the church will get a reputation for having had internal conflict. But this profile type is actually the least used reason for entering into an IIM journey.The Intentional Interim Ministry process will, of course, be effectively used by churches to rebuild unity, seek forgiveness and restore health so the next pastor will not arrive and have to immediately spend all his leadership capital fixing old problems.
Action Steps toward considering an Intentional Interim Ministry process for your church
- Engage the Interim Church Services Team
Contact Texas Baptists’ Interim Church Services to schedule an onsite visit with a certified Intentional Interim specialist.
- Schedule an Intentional Interim Ministry Presentation for selected Church Leadership
Our IIM facilitator presents an onsite overview of the Intentional Interim Ministry process to key church leaders, followed by Q&A. The participants in this group varies from church to church, but could include: Deacons, Personnel Committee members, Leadership Council, Elders, and other significant leaders who are not in formal positions at the time.
- Arrange for an Intentional Interim Ministry Presentation to the Church Congregation
If a consensus of church leaders in the initial presentation meeting believes the IIM process may be right for the church, upon their recommendation, the same presentation is repeated to the full congregation.
- Vote as a church to initiate the Intentional Interim Ministry process
Following this congregational meeting, it is advisable, under any church policy, that the congregation be given time to think about, pray about, and discuss the process. A vote by the church to enter into the IIM process builds buy-in and unity.
- Consider Candidates for your Intentional Interim Pastor
A list of certified Intentional Interim Pastor candidates are provided by BGCT. An Intentional Interim Pastor search committee is formed and will make their own recommendation to the church of the best candidate after appropriate meetings and referrals.
- Select your Intentional Interim Pastor
The church votes on the recommended Intentional Interim Pastor, accompanied by a written covenant that details the agreement between the church and candidate. Details of expectations and financial arrangements are the focus of the covenant. Additionally, the covenant covers specific agreements:
- The Intentional Interim Pastor cannot be considered for the permanent pastor’s position.
- The agreement will last one year (recommended), but can be extended or terminated early.
- The Intentional Interim Pastor will report directly to the church’s Transition Team.
- Begin the Intentional Interim Ministry process.