Man journaling

This past Sunday was my second week as the intentional interim pastor for a new client church. It was a great day but I don’t quite feel like I’ve settled in yet. Some of the folks are beginning to look to me as the lead in some areas and over time I anticipate that we’ll adjust to one another and get down to the Lord’s business.

I left home just before 6 a.m. to drive to the church (225 miles round trip) so I could join in the 8 a.m. prayer gathering. The prayer gathering was a pleasant surprise. The only agenda was to pray for the church; there were no “prayer requests” other than that. Each person led the group in prayer as the Holy Spirit moved. It was a spiritually refreshing time.

After the morning service I met with several folks to chat about the small group curriculum. I mostly listened (at least I think I did) and offered a few comments. The folks have compassion for their small group and are eager to help everyone in it grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus.

After meeting with another couple over a luncheon salad I drove home thanking God for the opportunity to serve this church. I put on my jogging clothes and went out for a 5k run.

Last week I posted my impressions from my first Sunday on duty:

My first Sunday at the church was positive from my perspective.

  • I was very warmly received before and after the service.
  • Attendance was a bit light, but I suspect this is due to this being a holiday weekend.
  • Friends from another church I had served as interim drove down to see my wife and I.
  • Several commented that the sermon was timely.

In addition, I also identified the immediate tasks that lay before me. I’m pleased to say that I’ve made progress in several areas:

  • I’ve gotten the directories and I’ve begun working on names. I’m finally able to put couples together; this is a bit of a challenge when you meet them individually. It’s even more challenging when a week or two goes by between meeting one partner and the other. But I’m starting to get the names dialed in.
  • The Board of Elders have the employment contract and a sample MOU. I’ve had one-on-one discussions with a couple of them; hopefully we’ll have the contract settled at this week’s Elders’ meeting. The MOU will come up once the assessments and recommendations are finished.
  • I’m still waiting on some of the documents for review. Someone is trying to compile attendance records; I’m particularly interested in seeing the visitor retention rate.
  • Although it’s not yet settled, several folks have offered lodging for the days I’m on site. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find some lodging that will allow me some solitude in the mornings and the evenings. I use the mornings to study and read, and my evenings are usually used to unwind. (I find that when I have to socialize in the evening with folks – which I thoroughly enjoy – my mind is going pedal-to-the-metal when it’s time to hit the sack. Then I can’t fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning and I’m half-baked the next day!)

My preliminary read, my intuition, is that there aren’t a lot of personality problems, control issues and conflicts to be resolved. Based on the responses I’ve gotten to some questions I’ve asked and what I’ve seen on the ground I’m guessing that the biggest part of my time will be putting the systems a healthy church needs to have in place, training people to fill roles in those systems, and launching them off. If those aren’t put together before the Pastor Search process is launched the church could be working on parallel tracks: putting the systems into place and looking for the next pastor capable of leading those systems. Not a formula for success.

It’s great to be in God’s service!