Message from the Minister
I write this in anticipation of meeting most of you for the first time. As we begin a new ministry together it almost feels like a blind date, there is anticipation, apprehension, hope and loads of potential. I recognize many of you are also getting to know each other as the three congregations making up the New Church come together. My first hope is that we will spend time and energy building strong, trusting relationships that will carry you faithfully into the future.
Many of you may have questions about Interim Ministry. The short answer is that interim Ministry is a time-limited appointment of a minister with specific gifts to help guide a congregation through times of transition. The main difference between called ministers and interim ministers is that we have training and experience in holding congregations in liminal space. To be liminal is to remain on the threshold, pausing for a time before moving into the future. This is a time that celebrates the past (potentially dealing with any residual grief), while still facing forward, dreaming or anticipating what might be. It is a time for questioning, reflecting, dreaming and most importantly a time to foster and engage open and honest discussion.
If you have questions or concerns about interim Ministry, please feel free to ask – chances are the person beside you has the same questions in their hearts. In the meantime, here are a few common questions and initial answers:
How long is an Interim Ministry? Usually 2 years. We are aiming at 12-23 months.
How does an IM work in a church? The Board and congregation will agree in a few goals they hope to achieve during the interim time. The Church selects a Transition Team who will be the working group for the interim process. They will meet regularly with the Interim Minister to address and monitor progress of the goals. As a liaison between the congregation and the minister, the Transition Team report to the congregation and Board. They interpret Interim ministry to the congregation. The Team has no power in and of itself, but functions by bringing recommendations to the Board &/or Faith Community for consideration. At the end of the interim ministry period, both the Transition Team and the Interim Minister do a final evaluation which is shared with the wider church (and usually the future ministry person).
Myths and Misconceptions about Interim Ministry
- An interim minister is the same as a supply minister – Interim ministry focuses on very specific goals, not on maintaining the status quo
- Interim ministers only come to congregations in trouble – Any congregation in transition can benefit from interim ministry
- If we like the Interim Minister, we can keep him or her – By design, Interim appointments always end and seek to pave the way for a new Minister
- The Interim Minister is going to fix all our problems – Interims support capable congregations to do their work
- The success of the Interim ministry rests solely with the Interim Minister – Congregations drive the success of Interim times
What about the JNAC? The former JNAC process has been replaced by the creation of Faith Community profiles. Once completed, (and while the work of the Transition Team continues), a Search Committee does their work to find the future minister. The goal is that the call for the future Lead minister would be in place when the interim minister leaves.
Three guiding questions undergird all the work of interim ministers. We are trained to help congregations discern: Who are we? Who is our neighbour? And, who is God calling us to be? While you will have had some idea of those answers in your founding congregations, the challenge over the next few months will be coming to some agreement as the new church continues to take shape. By the end of our time together, we will have clearly identified the characteristics of a future ministry person who will most likely enhance the life of your congregation, and then further prepare the congregation for meeting and embracing them.
I don’t know where God will lead us, but I do know liminal times are filled with potential and possibility, especially when we open ourselves to the Spirit’s leading. We can go forward with confidence and hope because God always leads toward love and new life, and calls us at every turn to “live fully, love extravagantly and be all that we were created to be. (Tillich)”
God’s blessings for the journey, Helen