In 2005, Dan began to transition from being an itinerant speaker to focus on his new passion as an Intentional Interim Pastor, Certified by the Center for Congregational Health. Dan is also Certified as a Transitional Pastor by the Southern Baptist Convention. Dan has served as a Transitional Pastor at nine churches in Alabama and Georgia. "I truly believe working with churches during transition could be our greatest area of work thus far, and prayerfully will be a large part of the legacy of our calling."
To understand the Transitional Pastoral Ministry, it is helpful to understand the term "Transitional Pastor" (TP) and the need for and role of the TP. When a faith community (the church) is between permanent pastors, the TP operates as the permanent pastor with one exception: he is temporary. While his role is preacher, pastor, leader, and friend, his ministry is to create a short-term mission until a long-range vision arrives. Simply put, he leads within the congregation's current structure and offers counsel and direction to prepare the church for the permanent pastor.
During a time of pastoral transition, many church members become anxious. One of the reasons for the anxiety is a perceived loss of stability in the pastoral office—the church has lost its leader. Another reason is a fear factor—members and leaders of the church become afraid that attendance will drop, contributions will decrease, and no one will join the church while the senior pastoral position is vacant.
A vital key to a church during transition is a healthy evaluation of its organization, ministries, personnel, mission approach, and financial structure. The TP works closely with the Pastor Search Team for training purposes and, if called upon, helps them secure the next permanent pastor.
It is recommended during this time that a Transition Focus Team (made up of a good cross-section of the membership) be formed to evaluate the church from top to bottom. This team will be guided by the Transition Team Leader and the TP to examine the organizational structure of the church. Together, the TP and the Transition Team will work to restore hope for the future, integrity within the community, and health to the Body, and will seek to reclaim a short-term mission until the long-range vision arrives. Significant decisions or directional changes will be recommended by the Team and approved by the Church. The TP is a counselor and guide to assist in this process.
During Transition time we will examine the body of Christ called (YOUR CHURCH) through four lenses and a series of stages to determine the best course to position the church to receive the next Senior Pastor.
Identify --- Core Values … Who are you and what makes you work?
This is the “who” of the congregation: the history, worldview, heritage, and character of the church. Together we will do a complete “Core Value” study of your mission statements and statements of beliefs through a series of “roundtable” discussions.
Context --- Local / Global … Where are you investing?
This is the setting of the congregation, both locally and globally. This study will examine the “where”—the demographic data, social interaction, and norms and values of the community. We will clarify how important missions is to your congregation, where you invest mission dollars, and where you spend time on the mission field, including examining the locations you are committed to and why. In evaluating these mission efforts, we will seek to determine if the church’s investment in those efforts should continue or be refocused elsewhere.
Process --- Decisions are made … How and why?
This is the underlying flow and the dynamics of the congregation that knits it together in its common life of “why” we do church and “how” we do it. The “how” part of this evaluation points to the decision-making process, leadership, and communicating our mission. The New Testament points to His dimension with the idea of koinonia or fellowship.
Programs --- Activities and ministries… What, How, When?
The study of all your programs will determine the “what” you do in congregational life. All the church’s activities—small-group teaching segments, Sunday school, ministries, group meetings, and events outside the normal Sunday worship gathering—will be viewed through this lens. “When” do these groups meet or the events take place, and are they meeting the needs of the church and community? This process will examine “how” real and relevant your ministries are and evaluate the way you present the message of Christ as well as “how” you teach to equip members to go into the world and make disciples. The process will also evaluate your Sunday morning worship gatherings, which should be a time of celebration of who God is and what He is doing in our lives!
As you can see, the Transitional Pastor is much more than a Sunday morning preacher. While the traditional approach of having a Sunday-morning preaching interim can meet some needs, it will not meet the needs of preparing the church to receive the next permanent pastor to reach the next generation. The pulpit preaching does not have to suffer during transition. If the Word is proclaimed and the content is real, relevant, and relational, lives will be changed, the Kingdom will increase, and the church will grow.
Obviously, the goal is to become a healthy congregation and to be completely ready to receive the next Senior Pastor.
For more information about our Transitional Pastoral Ministry or Dan’s availability contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org