The Decline of the Interim Pastor

For many churches, a leadership succession model may be best.

As a congregational consultant, I'm increasingly receiving calls like this: "Our pastor of twenty years is retiring. Our church is going strong. We're wondering if planning for some kind of leadership succession may be a wiser course than the usual interim ministry?" Or the caller may say, "We once had a terrible experience with an interim minister. Are there some other options?"

Just so we're on the same page, a "pastoral leadership succession model" means that the congregation calls a successor to their current pastor while the incumbent is still serving. The two overlap for a time, ranging from three months to a year in the examples I know. Then the out-going person retires and the designated successor takes over.

This is an older model, one that never quite went away in some church groups and cultures, and is now making a comeback. Why?

The principle reason is that the model of interim ministry developed in the 1980s is no longer a good fit for many churches in the 21st century. That ...

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November

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