Three months have passed since I have joined you as your interim minster. I want to thank you for your gracious welcome of my family and me. Though I am still in the process of learning and remembering names, I feel that I have gotten to know many of you well. I am now in the process of setting up visits with congregational members to hear from you about your dreams for this church and your hopes for leadership.
Questions have been asked about where we are in the process of finding a new Senior Pastor. First let me explain the interim ministry process. There are five developmental tasks that I need to “check off” with you before a new minister is installed. These don’t need to be accomplished sequentially, but must be addressed during my time with you.
The first is helping the church deal with the past. There may be feelings of loss, confusion, anger, or mistrust that remain among members after the leaving of the last pastor, but the church needs to also celebrate its ministry and history. The second task is to discern a new congregational identity and mission. This is where a mission study is undertaken or, in your case, probably reviewed and updated. Third is to facilitate needed shifts in its leadership. Both the staff and the committee structure need to be examined to see if they are appropriate for the stated ministry of the church. The fourth is to make sure the church is connected through our denominational linkages. And finally to commit to new leadership and ministry.
The Call process itself has already begun by the formation of your congregational nominating committee. In their work they will not only begin thinking about elders and deacons for next year but this is the group that will nominate the Pastoral Nominating Committee to begin the search for a new pastor. Normally a Study Committee is formed first and a self-study process begun. But because your last self study is recent, the Committee On Ministry can waive the requirement of doing a new self-study. Once COM gives permission for the PNC to be formed, a congregational meeting will be called to elect the members. When in place, the PNC will review the self-study and facilitate a dialogue with the congregation in determining what characteristics and ministry skills are needed. A Ministry Information Form (MIF) is then generated to be published, matched with prospective candidates, and given to those who apply for the position. The COM then again gives permission to begin the active search and the PNC can start interviewing ministers for the position.
My involvement with the process will diminish as the PNC gets closer to the search, and the interim minister is not to have any input into the evaluation of individual minister candidates when that time comes. Though interims can be employed up to two years and for some churches the process may take longer, I do not believe that will be the case with this church. If all goes well, I believe that the PNC will be fully engaged in the search sometime this Fall.
I hope this answers most of the questions you might have about the process and where we are. I will try to keep you informed and up to date as often as I can, but if you have any questions do not hesitate to ask.