3/6/2012 7:43:00 PM
This past week I had a request from a church in transition to comment on this idea of possibly hiring the Transitional Pastor (Intentional Interim) as the next Senior Pastor. The lay leader I spoke with was wanting to help guide the team who is in the middle of hiring the Transitional Pastor in answering this question which came up in their conversations. He had heard it wasn`t a great idea to hire the Transitional Pastor but wasn`t sure why it wasn`t such a great idea.
What would you say? I went to work researching and writing down some of the ideas I've heard and witnessed with the belief (that was confirmed) that hiring the Transitional Pastor, in most cases, is not advisable. These ideas I share with you as an incomplete list with the offer to have you add your comments and insights of what you think. You may have a contrary opinion to this article which I welcome as well. The way to respond is to click the blog link at the end of this article for a place to enter your ideas which I will read and find a way to share them next month in this newsletter.
Eight Reasons to Avoid Hiring the Transitional Pastor as Senior Pastor
1. YOU MIGHT INTERUPT HEALTHY CLOSURE
Churches need time for proper closure from the previous pastor`s ministry (regardless of whether the exit was smooth, rough or traumatic). There needs to be a time to grieve the loss without being interrupted or stalled by the idea or possibility that the transitional pastor may become the next pastor (this is an emotional issue which must not be overlooked).
"The churches I work with that ignored this stage (closure) often continue to lament for years over the loss of 'the best pastor we ever had.' Or they struggle with anger and distrust for years because the former pastor did not finish well. This is not healthy for the individual, the church or the incoming pastor.” Dan Reiland (Author and Pastor)
2. YOU MIGHT LOSE OBJECTIVITY DURING THE TRANSITION
Transitional Pastors to be effective need to maintain objectivity in their ministry so they can deal properly and thoroughly with issues (conflict, mistrust, broken relationships, etc.) that are keeping the congregation from moving forward. Deep change during transition is better led by a person who is seen as an outsider with no hidden agenda and nothing to lose.
3. IT MAY SOFTEN THE ABILITY TO ACT WITH TOUGH LOVE
The minute the transitional pastor becomes a candidate for the senior pastor position, the desire and ability to act with tough love or speak the truth in love will be clouded by the courtship that is now going on between the pastor and congregation.
4. IT MIGHT LEAD TO A LESS THAN IDEAL CANDIDATE
If in the back of your mind you are thinking “maybe we’ll just hire the Transitional Pastor”, it could hinder the hard work of ongoing assessment, continual improvement and proper development of the pastoral profile (job description) that will best suit your congregation. Hiring the transitional pastor will affect the unbiased development of a job description.
5. IT MAY PUT A CLOUD OVER A FRESH START
If the role of the transitional pastor is to do some house cleaning, a separate incoming senior pastor will not carry the residue of that process which could impact their ability to start fresh.
6. THE DIFFERENT ROLES REQUIRE DIFFERENT GIFTS
Many of the leadership gifts required to be a senior pastor are different from the leadership gifts required to be a transitional pastor. The best senior pastors do not often make the best transitional pastors and vice versa. People are usually called to these ministries separately.
7. YOU WILL AVOID A POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Not allowing the transitional pastor to be a candidate for the senior pastor position will allow the transitional pastor to built trust without any real or perceived conflict of interest (Metanoia Ministries).
8. YOU MIGHT BE HIRING AN UNINTENTIONAL INTERIM
If you hire the transitional pastor as your senior pastor, studies show that you may be actually hiring an unintentional interim and before too long find yourself once again in transition (Patricia A. Nugent with The Ministry Network).
As I mentioned earlier, this list is just some of the issues and thinking that supports the belief that it is best to keep a clear differentiation between the role of the Transitional Pastor and the potential incoming new Pastor for any given congregation. Of course there are exceptions to every "rule" but great care and caution needs to be taken if in fact your church is planning to break this rule for some reason.
Please add your comments by clicking the blog link and going to the place on that page where you can add your comments.
Potential Conflict of Interest
Created by Bud Brown
I would add that it frees the transition pastor to make the tough choices and deal fairly and graciously with conflict in the church.
Regional Minister for BC and Yukon
Created by Rob Ogilvie
Thanks very much Cam for this article, I completely agree. There are always some within a church that begin to attach to a transitional pastor and then suggest they could become their new senior pastor. These are two very different roles, for all the reasons you have put forward, and it should be made clear right up front for both the congregation and the pastor that the transitional person can not be considered for that role. I have seen first hand the struggle caused when this wasn't followed and the division that followed in that local church. I agree, there can be some rare exceptions, but they truly are rare.
Created by Michael Johnson
I absolutely agree. I understand the desire from both sides. Even as a transition pastor in a church with serious problems, you start to really love the people and you know it's going to hurt when you leave. And the congregation becomes comfortable with the transition person and appreciates the insights and tough love he brings to the ministry. But, those are all legitimate points and some of them are present in virtually every situation. I think the loss of objectivity and "outsider" status is the one that concerns me most.
I agree there may be the rare exception, but I think we treat too many situations as "exceptional" that really are not.