FAQ's and Myths About IIM

Key Elements of Intentional Interim Ministry

Two things are required in order for a church to be considered doing intentional interim ministry:

1. The church has officially voted that it will work on a self-study, including the five developmental tasks of the interim church before it releases a search committee to begin searching for a new pastor. Ideally, the church will not even elect a search committee until after the self-study phase has ended.

2. The church has a specific covenant describing the relationship between the intentional interim pastor/consultant and the church. These covenants include the fact that none of these outside persons is open to accepting the call from the church to serve as the next permanent pastor.

FAQs about the Intentional Interim Ministry

 1.  What type of church uses the Intentional Interim Ministry (IIM)?

While the IIM could help any church, there are three times when the IIM should seriously be considered. 

  • When a church has lost a long-tenured pastor
  • When energy is down or vision is missing or a church feels it is wise to have a basic “check up”
  • When conflicts exist that could jeopardize the next pastor’s ministry
2.  How long does it take?

A traditional interim will last a year on average.  An Intentional Interim Ministry (IIM) will take 18 months on average—spending 6-12 months on the self-study and 6-9 months on the actual search.  High conflict churches take longer.  Churches that have recently finished some of the IIM work will take shorter times. 

3.  How much does it cost?

Churches often use the interim period to catch up on their bills with money saved from not having to pay the pastor’s salary.  The IIM is not designed to be a money saver.  It is designed to provide a pastor who can: help the church maintain its momentum, attend to pastoral duties so a backlog isn’t created and existing staff isn’t overworked, and coach the Transition Team to lead the self-study.  The IIM candidate will work with the church in designing a covenant that will spell out his full scope of duties (from preaching to leading the Transition Team).  We recommend that the interim’s pay match his duties.  If you ask him to do 100% of the pastor’s duties, you would pay him 100% of the pastor’s salary package.  If you agree to his performing 50% of the pastor’s duties, you would pay him 50% of the package.  There may also be additional expenses regarding travel or temporary housing. 

4.  Does it work?

 Anecdotal evidence and the results of interviews with Transition Team members consistently points to the positive experiences churches have with the IIM.  In addition, the Center for Congregational Health was able to use grant money to have a study performed of the IIM’s effectiveness.  The results showed that 82% of the Transition Team members surveyed believed the IIM had positively and significantly impacted their church (9% were neutral and 9% were negative).  The full study is available upon request.  Contact information with lay people in churches that used the IIM is also available upon request.

Myths about Intentional Interim Ministry

Myth #1: Intentional interim is better than traditional interim ministry.

While the IIM process could probably help any church, it would be an overstatement to claim that all churches need to engage in the IIM. Traditional interim ministry has helped many churches over time. A church simply needs to decide what is best for them at the present time.

Myth #2: Intentional interim ministry is only for troubled churches.

Any church in conflict should seriously consider the IIM for their next interim period—but this is not the only reason for engaging in the IIM. Addressing the lack of focus, or the absence of vision, are common reasons churches choose to utilize the IIM. Also, following a long-tenured pastor (beloved or not) is most often a predictor of failure for the next pastor, unless related issues have been addressed in the interim period.

Myth #3: Intentional interim ministry is very costly.

The process is designed so that it should not be much more expensive than having a permanent pastor on the church field.

Myth #4: The intentional interim pastor will tell us what to do.

The IIM pastor is a guide to help the process. The Transition Team leads the congregation to actually engage in the work. However, it is the congregation that must do the work of the IIM period.

Myth #5: Intentional interim ministry is not Baptist.

While the IIM’s origins were in ecumenical circles, the process has been reshaped by Baptists to work in Baptist churches.


from the "Intentional Interim Ministry" brochure by Karl Fickling, , and the IIM website