Understanding Intentional Interim Ministry

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by Kara Kistner — June 4, 2014

DALLAS – The interim period between one pastor leaving and the next pastor arriving can be a special time of God moving in a congregation. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the next person to arrive, the interim time creates a wonderful opportunity to address issues, questions, concerns, vision and the church’s health.

Throughout Texas Baptists there are a total of 88 trained Intentional Interim Pastors, 25 currently in training and 10 active pastors in the Baptist Convention of New England (BCNE). Whether a church needs a traditional interim pastor or an intentional interim pastor, Texas Baptist’s Intentional Interim Ministry (IIM) Network provides a pool of trained pastors ready to serve in all types of communities and schedules.

“Nothing I have encountered equips pastoral specialists to help churches see themselves more clearly and then enables them to face themselves and address their challenges more honestly than Intentional Interim Ministry,” said Randy Sprinkle, retired director of Transformational Leadership at Baptist Convention of New England.

The IIM Network is supported by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Texas Baptists cooperate together in partnership around the state, and beyond, to strengthen Christ’s churches to reach the world with the Good News.

The network consists of seasoned interim ministers called by God to serve as interims and professionally trained for the interim process. Members of the network are called to serve pastorless churches in many capacities. Pastors in the IIM Network have completed over 80 hours of formal training in the intentional and traditional interim process, and to become certified, one must complete service in an IIM situation and pass a peer review.

“The Intentional Interim Ministry has had a great impact on our church,” said Gary Sponsor, deacon at Calvary Baptist Church in Abilene. “It returned our church’s focus to the matters that were important for us to thrive.”

“The IIM process helped our church recognize, address and reconcile the issues that we were experiencing at a difficult time,” said Judi Mitchell, member at First Baptist Church Baytown. “Without healing these existing divisions, it would have been difficult to have unity, and the Intentional Interim pastor and the Transition Team provided us with the tools to extend grace and compassion.”

To assist a church in successfully navigating through an interim period, Texas Baptist’s Interim Church Services provides a network of pastors and ministers with significant ministry experience who have completed specialized training in both Traditional Interim Ministry and Intentional Interim Ministry.

“I understand why my three predecessors; Dick Maples, Charles Williamson and Jack Daehnert; in this ministry have each said the Intentional Interim Ministry was their most important contribution to the Baptist General Convention of Texas,” said Dr. Karl Fickling, coordinator of Interim Church Services.

Traditional Interim Ministry has usually provided a pulpit supply preacher for the interim time who “preaches, loves us and leaves us alone,” according to Fickling. Sometimes a church gets excellent preaching, sometimes a church saves a significant amount of money, but often the pastor is not asked to help the church address concerns or issues before calling a new pastor.

Turning the interim period into an intentional period can make a tremendous difference in the future of a church. The Intentional Interim Ministry offers interim specialists who preach, provide pastoral care and leadership while helping the church take serious introspective looks before calling a new pastor. They are also able to bring this expertise to more traditional interim situations.

“Our experience with the Intentional Interim Ministry was extremely positive,” said John Cornell, member at South Park Baptist Church in Alvin. “Our interim pastor helped focus our church’s ministry goals and deal with some major problems. His depth of spiritual discernment and leadership skills were perfect for the needs of our church.”

If you feel called and have a heart for interim ministry or have a desire to serve congregations in need, visit the Intentional Interim Ministry page for more information or contact Dr. Karl Fickling at karl.fickling@texasbaptists.org or (214) 887-5491.

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