8 Reasons to Call an Interim Pastor

By Dick Loizeaux

Sometimes when a pastor resigns people say “We have lots of contacts with people who can fill the pulpit. We don’t need an interim pastor. We can’t afford one.”

However, the truth is most churches can’t afford not to utilize an intentional interim pastor. The cost of not using an interim can be very high. Here are just a few:

  1. If your congregation does not properly move through any confusion, grief, or anger surrounding the last pastor’s departure, they may not be healthy enough to conduct an effective pastoral search or to attract a quality candidate. Wounds are not healed, tensions are not calmed, and divisions are not resolved. You don’t want the next pastor to step into that.
  2. If your congregation does not properly move through the emotions surrounding the last pastor’s departure, it may not be emotionally or spiritually ready to truly welcome and embrace the next pastor. A pastor who is not embraced becomes an unintentional interim pastor.
  3. Any unsolved strong emotions can poison the pastoral search process. People either want someone just like the last pastor, which is impossible, or someone the opposite of the last pastor, which is just as bad. When these emotions drive a search team it can result in either a poor choice, or difficulty making a unified choice at all. The search process then lengthens or even fails. It takes a church 3-5 years to recover from a bad senior pastor hire. 
  4. Without outside assistance your congregation might not be able to identify and correct internal problems which can scare the best candidates away. What kind of problems? Staff problems, budget shortfall, underperforming ministries, ineffective governing structures, unclear direction, and unresolved personal conflicts to name just a few. When core problems are addressed during the transition the church becomes more attractive to high quality candidates. When the incoming pastor has to tackle tough problems as soon as he arrives, he spends all his time, energy and passion on repairing rather than growing the church. The inevitable conflicts take their toll, often leading to discouragement and an early resignation of the new pastor.
  5. A pastoral transition is delicate and complicated business. Without outside expertise in navigating a transition you run the risk of making costly but avoidable mistakes which hurt the congregation. An experienced intentional interim can assess church health issues and can help introduce and manage change in preparation for the new pastor.
  6. Without an interim pastor the church’s Vision can leak and the quality of regular church ministries often declines. When those happen giving also declines creating a downward spiral. An intentional interim can keep the Vision alive and protect the quality of ministry.
  7. An interim pastor can provide a greater perception of stability and continuity to the congregation than a variety of preachers and no visible “shepherd.” Fear is reduced and confidence is increased.
  8. Satan likes to attack churches during a transition precisely because that is when they are most vulnerable.  An experienced interim pastor can meet crisis and spiritual warfare head on.



Interim, Pastoral Search, Pastoral Placement, Dick Loizeaux