#3 – Pause for a Health Check


In taking on a promising new pastor churches often gloss over complex, endemic issues hoping that the uplift of an energetic new pastor will cancel out any underlying issues that really ought to have been addressed before.

Of course the new pastor with a fresh eye is likely to identify these unresolved issues and will have to “take people to one side” and say, “Wait a minute, you’ve got some problems here. We need to deal with these before we can get far with anything else, or strike out in new directions!”

When this happens a congregation, or the diaconate/eldership/board can feel embarrassed – especially if root and branch action is then needed. This is a recipe for a lot of conflict, guilt, resentment and anger can get all mushed together. Suddenly things will be much tougher going than the people had expected. People may cry out or act up in the distress of it, sometimes scapegoating the pastor for the pain of these issues and the discomfort of this part of the journey.“The church isn’t feeling happy. And it’s been since you came and therefore you must be the problem!”

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This is another scenario where the more detached, dispassionate, doesn’t-have-to-be-liked voice of an Intentional Interim has such an advantage to bring.

The tighter time-frame of an Intentional Interim adds a degree of motivation to engage with and get through what the II is bringing to the table – because the reward will be the process of appointing a new pastor. If a new pastor attempts the same work it can be perceived as an unexpected and unnecessary bogging down in unmotivating work. Not the uplift that was looked for. This is why it is far more helpful for the voice that says, “Wait a minute, you’ve got some problems here. We need to deal with these first…” to be the voice of an Intentional Interim – not the voice of the new pastor.