Press Release

Interim Ministry Partners

May 11, 2013

 

Interim Ministry Partners—a group of ministers helping churches build healthier and more effective futures—officially began serving congregations this Spring. Tim Woodroof, Managing Partner, announced the formation of IMP and spoke to us about the difference this ministry makes for churches.

“Interim Ministry is a highly valued and widely used service in other denominational settings,” Woodroof said. “When a minister leaves a congregation, when a church finds itself in need of new pulpit leadership, there is a unique opportunity available to the church … and a unique skill set that allows churches to not only transition smoothly but to experience transformation.”

In Churches of Christ, the transition process is often self-managed, notes Woodroof. “Standard procedure is for elders to set up a preaching rotation with members who have some pulpit skills, form a search committee, and hope everyone will be patient in the meantime. They turn to internal resources to hold things together and maintain the status quo.”

“And that’s a missed opportunity,” says Mark Frost, one of the four founders of IMP. “Status quo isn’t the point. Churches transitioning to new pulpit leadership have a wonderful chance to evaluate themselves, listen for God’s leading, and commit to greater impact for the kingdom.” Frost insists that churches focused on maintenance or preservation during the interim season are focused on the wrong things. “You don’t circle the wagons and hang on during a transition. You aggressively build a foundation for a new and more effective future.”

Greg Anderson, another IMP founder, emphasizes that is the reason why specialized and experienced help is so important during transitions. “Many people think of an ‘interim minister’ as someone who preaches on Sundays while the church looks for a new minister. But effective interim work involves so much more than Sunday sermons. A good interim minister consults with the leadership of the church, offers a network of resources for finding a new minister, and leads the search process itself.” According to Anderson, someone who is very familiar with churches in transition can help churches avoid many of the pitfalls and experience many of the blessings of an interim season.

Phil Ware agrees. The final founding member of IMP, Ware knows personally about ministerial transitions. “I’m transitioning right now,” Ware says. “I’m moving out of a pulpit role into a missions-oversight role. The church I’ve preached at for the last nine years is looking for someone else to fill that role. It’s not easy. People have lots of questions. They worry about the future. They wonder whether the minister-change signals a change of mindset and direction. Managing people’s fears, helping a church build a bridge to the future, is not an easy task. Yet when led effectively, the interim time can be a bridge from a scary transition into a future-defining transformation.”

The four partners who make up Interim Ministry Partners have over one hundred years of combined preaching experience. They have led dozens of churches through the process of transition. They are convinced that, in the life-cycle of a congregation, the transition to a new minister represents one of the most important and productive periods in a church’s existence.

“Churches tend to focus on finding the right minister,” Woodroof explains. “What they should really focus on, however, is becoming the right church. Churches that know who they are, where God is calling them, what gifts and resources they have, where they want to be in five years, who they want to reach—those churches are in a far better position to find the “right” minister. As interim minister, our job is to help each church listen to God and know itself … and then to find a “charactered,” competent, and compatible minister to partner with them for the future.”

If you would like more information on interim ministry and Interim Ministry Partners, visit their website: www.interimministrypartners.com.