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 ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.


Support our work

Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Homepage Subscription Panel
Read These Next