Book of the Quarter — Interim Ministry in Action: A Handbook for Churches in Transition

Interim Ministry in Action: A Handbook for Churches in Transition, by Norman B. Bendroth, An Alban Institute Book, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Copyright © 2018 by The Roman & Littlefield Prublishing Group, Inc., (electronic) ISBN 9781538104989

This is the latest book I’ve read about interim ministry. Mr. Bendroth lays out the need, advantages, and helplessness of an interim minister. The minister is there to coach, share insights from long service, ask questions, and let the church do what she wishes.

On the fifth Tuesday of each quarter of the year, I share a book I’ve read recently. I highlighted “mustard seeds,” which impressed me. I hope you find one or two that will be helpful to you.

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Business consultant Robert Half says in his blog, “The costs of a bad hire are great and could have been prevented if those hiring did a more effective job of determining what kind of person they needed to accomplish the goals they desired.” A search committee’s first job is to enter a season of prayer to determine what they want to accomplish during the interim time. Do they need a generalist who will do an effective job of leading them through a time of self-evaluation and goal setting? Do they need someone with skills in dealing with conflict or helping a congregation communicate more effectively? Do they want to revisit their organizational structure, boost their stewardship program, or do more community outreach? (page 76, 77, Kindle Edition).

The author of Proverbs puts it bluntly, “Like an archer who wounds everyone, so is he who hires a fool, or hires those who pass by” (Proverbs 26: 10) (page 77, Kindle Edition).

Good questions to ask are: are there places where one person or groups of people have too much authority and power without the commensurate accountability? How can you balance experience with energy and innovative ideas? Are there leaders or staff members who are entrenched and need to move on? (page 96, Kindle Edition).

Evaluations are to be mutual based upon the mission, vision, and goals of the congregation. The best evaluations are “mutual ministry” evaluations that do not focus on the pastor or staff but on the whole ministry of the church, including the leaders and the congregation (page 98, Kindle Edition).

I hope these metaphors are helpful in understanding that an interim minister is not there to shake things up, per se, but to help a congregation discover its own ecology, to pull some weeds to make room for growth, fertilize and water areas that have been neglected, and help churches reap a bumper crop. As I like to say, “I don’t have a dog in this fight.” In other words, it’s not my church, and ultimately the congregation will do as it wishes (page 114, Kindle Edition).

Go to Amazon to learn more about Interim Ministry in Action or purchase it:

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Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

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