An interim pastor has it easier in one regard: the church hired you to accomplish one specific task. Your job, which you have chosen to accept, is to deal with the issues that hinder the church’s ministry.
If you’re smart about this you’ll recruit a transition team to help you tackle big problems. The transition team is a “force multiplier” and the people who keep the ball rolling after you’ve left. A well chosen, well trained transition team makes the interim pastor’s life much easier.
So, an important part of your mission is to form a high functioning transition team; a team capable of addressing the issues identified during the assessment. The transition team will be made up of all of the people that you think you’re going to need to address the issues and accomplish resolution.
Building the transition team begins by reviewing the assessment. Pay attention to your recommendations, then ask yourself, “out of this list of recommendations, what are the three or four most important?” Answer this question by writing down a simple declarative sentence for each of the three or four major issues. Then, think about each one and ask, “what needs to happen here so the church can move forward?”
Now it’s time to think about who is going to help in each of these areas. Each issue in need of resolution will be handled by two or three people whom you will supervise. If you’ve identified four areas to work on, you will need from 8 to 12 people. That will be your transition team.
Finally, you need to recruit people for the transition team. Some of them will be currently elected leaders and some will be from the congregation at large. Each person you choose should be capable of making good contributions to solve the problems in front of the church Here is a checklist of the qualities you should look for in your transition team members. I know that this checklist looks like a pastor’s “dream date.” Don’t worry about that; all you can do is work with what God has given you to work with.
Here’s the checklist I work from when I’m serving as an interim pastor, putting together a transition team.
From elected leaders
- Agenda driven?
- Good relationship with last pastor?
- Good reputation in the church?
- Stable tenure in leadership positions?
- Right gift mix?
- Influencers and opinion makers?
- Able to exert healthy influence over others?
- Named as potential new leaders in assessment phase?
- Big picture thinkers?
Qualities for all team members
- Teachable spirit?
- Evidence of rich prayer life?
- Students of scripture?
- Good model of Christian maturity?
- Great commission passion?
- Support missions / missionaries?
- Build links to unbelievers?
- Hospitable to guests?
- Active personal witness?
- Time available?
- Flexible personality?
- Leadership skills?
- Team player?
For the foreseeable future you are going to invest everything you have into these people. This is the team that is going to lead your church out of the wilderness and into the promised land of dynamic ministry. You are going to train them on God’s mission in the world, how this church fits into that mission, what it means to “make disciples”, and how to introduce beneficial change to a stagnant congregation. I’ll have some specifics about how to train the team in future posts.
But for now you’ve got plenty to do, don’t you?