Don’t you hate it when different companies offer products or services that go by the same name, but are actually quite different? It can make it difficult to compare prices, since you aren’t comparing apples to apples. For example, you can buy a brand-new base-model budget car for under $20,000, or you can opt for a fully loaded luxury vehicle for well over $100,000. Both are called “cars,” have four wheels, and will get you from place to place, but beyond that, it’s hard to compare the two. You have to look beyond the basics and find out what is included in the price to decide which option is best for you.
This concept holds true even in niche service industries. For example, there are multiple organizations that send interim pastors to churches, but not all of them offer the same type of services. In fact, different interim pastor ministries can offer vastly different levels of service. Some organizations will send one of their interim pastors to a church simply to preach to the church’s congregation during their regular service times, while others will provide an interim pastor who will fill a larger role—the one that is typically filled by a lead pastor. This includes not only preaching on Sundays, but also leading the staff, developing lay leaders, discipling congregation members, counseling, and more.
Most churches that are in need of an interim pastor have to keep a budget in mind, but going with the least expensive interim pastor available is not always the best choice. Most churches need more than just someone who can fill the pulpit. They need someone who can truly lead the church as they search for their next permanent lead pastor—someone who has the spiritual giftings and pastoral experience to guide a church through what can often be a difficult transition.
If you are a leader at a church that is currently in between lead pastors—for whatever reason—it is important to honestly consider what your church needs. Hiring the right interim pastor based on your church’s needs should be considered an investment in your church—an investment that will hopefully pay dividends in areas such as church health, vibrancy, and spiritual growth.
Some interim pastors will simply maintain the status quo, while others will work with the congregation to make any needed changes prior to the next lead pastor’s arrival. VitalChurch Ministry is an example of an interim pastor ministry that falls into the latter category. According to their website: “The intentional interim pastors at VitalChurch function not as consultants, but as pastors, with each bringing his own pastoral gifts and strengths to bear on the intentional interim process. Our pastors are not looking to maintain the status quo, but to act as Christ-centered agents of change for churches facing difficult circumstances.”
What type of interim pastor does your church need? As a church leader, this is something you should prayerfully consider before bringing in an interim pastor.