8 Things I Love about Serving as an Interim Pastor

I recently finished a 17-month interim pastorate in Raleigh, North Carolina. Because Church Answers emphasizes training intentional interims, I want to talk about why I love this role. If your situation makes this possible, maybe my thoughts will encourage you to serve as an interim as well:

1. I’m grateful for the opportunity to offer consistency to a congregation looking for guidance. It’s tough for a church to look forward with intentionality when they’re hearing from a different voice each week—voices often from outside their church. Just the stability of the same preacher can help a church in transition regain hope.

2. As a pastor at heart, I look forward to proclaiming the Word to the same people for several months (or longer). That’s because you get to walk with them in their spiritual growth, even if the interim pastorate is shorter than expected. There’s just something special about seeing non-believers saved and believers mature during an interim.

3. The role allows me to “call out the called” to go to the nations. With 4 billion+ people in the world having little access to the gospel, we pastors must work harder to challenge our members to consider this calling. Even in my role as an interim, I’ve seen church members who had never considered missions begin to take steps in that direction.

4. In general, my prayer life is more focused when I’m responsible for the spiritual care of a congregation. The responsibility is weighty enough that it regularly drives me to my knees on behalf of others. And, I pray for the pastor search process to lead to the next pastor God has already set apart for the task. My prayer, I trust, also leads the church to pray more.

5. I grow daily in appreciation for pastors who faithfully serve God through His church. Even an interim carries some of the burdens a full-time, bi-vocational, or co-vocational pastor carries. No one but a pastor gets access to others’ lives from birth to death while also sharing their every heartache and every celebration through the years. That pastors will give account to God for the souls of those they lead (Heb 13:17) is a heavy weight indeed.

6. I remember what I need to remember: the “Dr” title I carry doesn’t matter much. One of my ministry joys is to hear kids, teens, and adults call me “Pastor Chuck” in the local church and “Uncle Chuck” on the mission field rather than “Dr. Lawless.” It’s humbling to lead the great people who make up God’s church.

7. It allows my wife to be briefly in the role of the “pastor’s wife.” Nobody I know is more patient, more loving, more hospitable, and more supportive than my wife, Pam. Even if we’re in an interim situation for only a short time, I love her having the opportunity to use her gifts in this role.

8. I pray I’m a better professor because of my interim pastorates. Frankly, it’s easy for professors to get a bit disconnected from the realities of day-to-day ministry. Especially in these days when the church is facing all kinds of issues, it’s good for me to be in the leadership trenches for a while.

 If you’ve been an interim pastor, what do you enjoy about the role?   

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