Not only does the environment of the appointing church need a good look at, but issues within the life and health of the church need an honest going over before too before beginning the process of recruiting the new pastor. This is a step not to be skipped and is another aspect where the work of an Intentional Interim can be especially helpful.
Often in taking on a promising new pastor a church will tend to gloss over complex, endemic issues optimistically hoping that the uplift of an energetic new pastor will cancel out any underlying issues that really ought to have been addressed before.
The new pastor may have the acuity to identify these unresolved issues 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 a diaconate or an eldership board can feel embarrassed – especially if root and branch action is then needed, and 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 and they can cry out or act up in the distress of it.
Put simply, this is not a part of the journey that anyone put their hands up for. They had hoped that the new pastor would be able to swiftly carry them away from having to wade through a layer of the story they would prefer to avoid – and which they feel depleted by having to consider. (In reality complexity of these underlying issues may even be the reason the previous pastor decided to move on.)
The new pastor is then often scapegoated 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!” When that is the perception sometimes a stalemate dynamic can set in – because how can a pastor be creative and thrive when laboring under that kind of disapproval?!
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 the 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. When a new pastor attempts the same work it is perceived as an unexpected and unnecessary bogging down in un-motivating 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.