When A Minister Leaves: Maximizing the Interim Season

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By Doug Peters

Transition is inevitable. Every church will experience a change in leadership. It may stem from retirement, health complications, scandal, a change in church needs, or some other shift in a minister’s calling or life. Researchers suggest that almost 40% of all ministers have recently considered leaving ministry. The church is not immune from “The Great Resignation.” Whether expected or unexpected, welcomed or unwelcomed, all churches and their leaders will walk the trail of transition.

Transition is inescapable, but how you experience and navigate transition is vitally important.

The Interim Season between ministers is a strategic opportunity to discern what God might do next through your congregation. An intentional transition can allow you to clarify how you might be further transformed into God’s people and participate in God’s mission. How can you know who you need, unless you really know who you are and where you are going? Bringing focus to the congregation’s calling opens the door to transformation as you step into God’s future.

Interim Ministry Partners (IMP), a Division of Hope Network Ministries, encourages churches and their leaders to maximize the interim season and move “From Transition to Transformation.”

Keys To An Effective Interim Season

Consistent Preaching Presence – Having an experienced and highly qualified minister in the pulpit on a regular basis is important during the interim season. The church needs balanced, consistent, and dynamic gospel preaching that is thematically aligned with where your congregation is in the search and transformation process. This is not the time to settle for a scattered and uneven approach to preaching. 

Search Team Coaching – Tailored to your context, we focus on the best practices of a proven search process. IMP is not a “head-hunter” service, but rather a guide as you participate in a spiritual discernment process. Built on a foundation of prayer and spiritual disciplines, we coach your team to conduct assessments of your congregation and community as you bring clarity to God’s calling for your church. These assessments involve your members and allow them to be more fully invested in your next chapter. IMP does not select ministers. However, we do coach a team of your members as they participate in some tried and true best practices to make a minister recommendation to church leaders.

Church and Leader Consulting – The interim season is also a great time to deal with a variety of church system issues and leadership challenges. Our interim ministers are experienced and qualified church consultants that regularly assist leaders and congregations in a wide variety of matters. They also bring with them a network of consulting resources from the larger IMP / Hope Network Team.

Even under the best of circumstances, the departure of a primary leader brings a measure of unsettledness throughout a church family. Effectively managed transition can be the defibrillator that God uses to jolt us back into healthy rhythms that allow God’s Spirit to flow through the church and into the world that God is calling us to serve! We believe a primary task of church leaders is to intentionally remind their people that God is intimately aware of their situation and, more importantly, desires to lead them into a vibrant and hopeful future.

While some church leaders just want to rush through an interim season as quickly as possible, there is real value in being proactive during the interim season. While transition is inevitable, transformation is optional!

Why not take advantage of this season to focus upon church health and mission while you intentionally prepare for the next season of your congregation’s life?

Our work begins with a conversation as we value God’s mission, church leaders, healthy churches, and transformed disciples. Contact us at contact@teamimp.com.

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Doug Peters, DMin
Interim Ministry Partners and HOPE Network Ministries


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