Six Reasons the Role of Interim Pastor Is Changing Dramatically

In the recent past, the role of the interim pastor was simple and straightforward: Find someone who can preach for six to nine months until the new pastor comes on board.

Today, the role of interim pastor is changing, becoming more complex, and carrying higher expectations. Why is this dramatic change taking place? Here are six major reasons:

  1. Churches want and need more help than preaching in an interim period. Depending on how you define revitalization, somewhere between 65% and 90% of all North American congregations need some type of revitalization efforts and strategy. More churches want and expect that of their interim pastors.
  2. Churches want to know if an interim pastor has specific qualifications for the job. Related to the first reason, this new reality is growing. More and more churches want to know if the prospective interim is truly trained and qualified for the role. That is one of the major reasons we created Interim Pastor University: to train and provide high-level certification for this unique ministry.
  3. Interim periods are growing in length. There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon we have addressed elsewhere. But we know the time between pastors is growing. Churches, therefore, want more than the traditional pastor during this period.
  4. Churches need interim pastors to make tough decisions. Many churches now look for interim pastors who can lead major changes and clean the slate for the next pastor. This type of leadership requires both experience and specific training.
  5. The role of interim pastor is becoming a retirement vocation for many Boomer church leaders. A number of these leaders may do 20 or more interim pastorates as a retirement ministry. Boomer church leaders will not fade gently into the sunset. This reality is a new phenomenon that is changing the way people look at interim pastors.
  6. Church life in general is more complex. The consequence is the need for an interim pastor who can adjust to these complexities. That interim pastor is different than those of the recent past.

As church practices change and church challenges grow, the role of interim pastor will grow with it. If you are interested in receiving additional training and certification as an interim pastor, join as at Interim Pastor University during our open enrollment period.

Keep your eye on these dynamics. The interim pastor of 2019 and beyond will look dramatically different than the interim pastor of 2015.

Posted on November 5, 2018

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Regina G. Lestino says on

    Our church is having an interim Pastor for 8 years. Is it healthy for the church ?

  • Our Church is hiring an Interim Pastor. He is also requesting that when the search committee begins their duties, he be selected as the Senior Pastor.
    Many of us believe that would lead to a conflict of interest.
    What are your thoughts?

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