Why VitalChurch Ministry Uses the Phrase ‘Intentional Interim Pastor’ Rather than Just ‘Interim Pastor’

If youve talked to anyone at VitalChurch Ministry, an organization that helps churches in transition or crisis, or perused their website for any length of time, youve probably noticed that they regularly use the phrase “intentional interim pastor.” Its a mouthful, and they could just as easily use the far more common term “interim pastor,” but theres an important distinction between the two titles. Heres why theyve chosen to use the longer phrase:

It Allows the Pastor to Make Changes

Whenever you hear the word “interim,” whether its paired with the word “pastor,” “principal,” “manager,” or anything else, most people tend to think that the person in the interim position is just a placeholder until the position is permanently filled. They arent typically given authority to make any major changes to the organization—they are just holding down the fort until the “real” leader arrives.
By using the word “intentional” along with an interim pastor title, it says that this person is more than just a placeholder. They are there for a purpose. They werent just chosen to fill a vacant role out of desperation, but were put there intentionally because they were the right person to fill that role at that specific period of time.

Many times, VitalChurchs pastors go into churches that are experiencing some sort of crisis—often it has to do with the last lead pastor leaving, but there are usually underlying issues as well. They need more than just a person who can fill the pulpit on Sundays. There is typically some healing or conflict resolution that needs to take place and spiritual issues that need to be addressed. Organizational and staffing issues are also rectified.

VitalChurchs intentional interim pastors only go into churches where it is understood that they will be making some changes. They dont go to churches where they are expected to maintain the status quo. They are agents of change and are very intentional in everything they do.

It Lets the Church Know that the Pastor Will Not Be Staying on Permanently

In some cases, when someone is appointed to an interim position, there is an assumption that he or she will eventually be appointed to the permanent position. This is especially true when someone is promoted from within to an interim role. But with VitalChurchs interim pastors, they are making it clear by using the word “intentional” that their position is meant to be temporary.

As they talked about in this blog post, their intentional interim pastors are not to be considered for the permanent lead pastor position. Its in their contract. They are there for a defined period of time to do a specific job. By using the word “intentional.” it keeps the congregation looking forward to their next season of ministry.

If youd like to learn more about VitalChurch and their intentional interim pastors, visit their website:

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