My essay, Interim Ministry: An Overview, outlines the process often used during the transitional period when ministerial changes occur in a congregation. The purpose of this essay is to describe more fully the four characteristics or four steps which distinguish intention interim or transitional ministry from the practice of simply filling the pulpit with "fill-in preachers."
The transition process is pre-established
Congregations often become hurried and frustrated during the ministerial search. Search committees are rushed. Congregational comments are focused almost exclusively on the acquiring of the new minister with little awareness of the interim process. Interim transitions which honor the nature of this unique time in the life of a church carefully establish in advance the activities and processes to be used. We will do this, then this, then that. Timetables can be helpful in helping the congregation see that progress is being made. Once the process is established, it should not be accelerated. One important factor to be understood by all is that God is at work here--this is not dependent entirely on the efforts of the congregation, the elders, the interim team, or the search committee. If God is at work, can we let God do his work in his time?
An interim team is identified and involved
The involvement of an interim team (as opposed to a group purely labeled as "search committee") is a sign that the congregation is thinking in terms of interim processes rather than merely identifying "fill-in" or "supply" preaching. An interim team has a task that is much greater than merely finding the next preacher.
A self-study is completed
The details of a self-study are too complex to outline in this essay, but one of the characteristics of a genuine interim period is that the congregation commits itself to completing a self-study and allowing the results of that self-study to guide the selection process as a new minister is identified.
The process is used reflectively to establish strong foundations for the future
Finally, an interim mentality allows the church to think about more than who the next preacher will be. The interim is a time to establish the foundations for the future--refreshed leadership, healthy attitudes, recommitment, refocused ministries, and reenergized missions.