Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

November 28, 2010

The Interim

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

An interim can be any person who is filling the gap for an unspecified length of time.  The president of a college can retire, and the trustees name an interim president until a permanent president can be found.

In church life, an interim is understood the same way.  A pastor retires or relocates to another church.  There is an interim period between the departure of that pastor and the arrival of a new pastor.  Most churches seek to find an interim pastor during that period of time.

I have had the privilege of serving as an interim pastor many times.  In fact, I have served in such a capacity eight times since retirement.  Some have been as long as 18 months, while others have only been a few months.  Health does not allow me to serve  a full interim now, but I am blessed that churches will allow me to serve with limitations.  I am now beginning my ninth interim!

There are many ways to define an interim pastor.  He is serving while the church is in transition; he is the in-between; he is filling a role temporarily.  The interim pastor serves at the request and under the authority of the church.  It is not in the role of the permanent pastor.  Only very short-term goals can be suggested by an interim.

The personal goal of an interim is to build unity in the fellowship.  Often this would include healing some hurts, as well as seeking to minister to the grief some have from the former pastor leaving.  Every interim should seek to generate some excitement among the congregation.

With a break in permanent pastoral leadership, a congregation can become too relaxed, or disillusioned, or discouraged.  The interim desires to reverse those feelings and emotions.  Yet, that can be difficult.  It takes time to build trust with a congregation.  Until the congregation has trust and respect for the interim, very little can be accomplished.

However, I have been so blessed with the churches God has allowed me to serve in those interim periods.  My life has been enriched through new friendships and the response from the congregations that were eager to continue the work of the church — even without a pastor.

Yet, no one desires to be an interim permanently.   A permanent pastor is a must if the church is to be healthy and grow.  Whether in church life or not, an interim can never fulfill a permanent role . . . especially in relationships.  It may not be a good application here, but I fear that sometimes in marriage relationships or parenthood, one acts more like an interim than the permanent spouse or parent.  One can be so caught up in their own personal agenda that they do not present themselves as the permanent and forever husband, wife, or parent.  And the home suffers.  The family can never rise to the fulfillment that can be theirs.

Growth, stability, trust, and genuine love comes when we know that our relationships are permanent–not temporary or like an interim.  For every spouse and parent, I behoove you to express the permanency needed in your relationship.  Christ is our example.  His love and commitment is never on an interim basis, but it is permanent.  Let us learn from Him.

“Love each other as I have loved you.”  (John 15:12)  ” . . . serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)



1 Comment »

  1. Dear Pastor Jolly:

    What a beautiful reminder of how our permanence should be in Christ. And in our families. I’m afraid too many families today START a family with the idea if it doesn’t work, I’ll just get out and start my life over again! How sad. Even in “Christian” families, I supposed not grounded in God’s Word the family relationship is so shallow. Thank you for your stories. They have meant so much to me and given me much to think upon!

    Comment by Doris — March 7, 2011 @ 12:32 pm | Reply

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