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SIM\R
(Specialized Interim Ministry\Renewal):
A Next Generation in Interim Ministry

Specialized Interim Ministry [SIM] was originally created to address a specific circumstance: a large church whose successful long-term pastor has moved on and is experiencing the anxiety of that departure and the inability to move beyond the shadow of their beloved former pastor.

While this form of ministry is relevant to certain churches, most churches do not fit this profile. To address the wider needs of today’s churches, during my recent Sabbatical I have designed what I call Specialized Interim Ministry/Renewal [SIM\R]. SIM\R is designed to address a wider diversity of church needs including:

Church Decline

  • A congregation which has experienced three or more years of decline measured by attendance, membership and/or finances
  • A congregation that finds its membership “plateaued&rquo; for 5 or more years
  • A congregation which has not experienced significant growth through outreach )less than 2& per year* for 5 or more years

Neighborhood Change

  • A congregation located in a neighborhood, which has undergone/is undergoing significant ethnic, social, language or economic change (both positive or negative).
  • A congregation where the membership looks significantly different than the average person in their surrounding community

Mission Renewal/Revision

  • A congregation which needs to redefine its vision, mission or ministry due to a change of membership and the spiritual gifts of those members
  • A congregation which wants to broaden its ministry to reach a group previously untouched by that church’s ministries
  • A congregation considering a significant change or addition to its style of worship and/or ministry
  • A congregation wishing to explore what possible new directions would fit their God-given gifts and passions, and the unconsidered opportunities for ministry in their community

Healing and Reconciliation

  • When a pastor has left in the midst of controversy and/or has divisions which need to be healed.
    • When the congregation has experienced crisis or tragedy at the end of a pastor’s tenure (his death or severe illness, pastoral misconduct, community tragedies) which need to be healed
    • When a congregation experiences significant divisions among members based on:

      • Theological differences
      • Ministry styles
      • Past unreconciled hurts

    Pastoral Search

    Those churches where SIM ministry would be appropriate:

    • After a successful, long-term pastor (8+ years) who now casts a long shadow by which any following pastor may be measured (and whose ghost can haunt future ministry, stifling creativity and inspiration).
    • When a congregation has a pattern of very short pastorates (3-4 years), since this may be evidence of a problem not clearly known or dealt with and which may lead the next pastor to stay only a short time.
    • The forms of SIM/R that I am advocating and providing are:

      • Natural Church Development-centered Interim Ministry. This would use the Natural Church Development [NCD] survey and process to improve the church’s health and to define the future direction of ministry. This would include a commitment to the full NCD process along with an NCD Survey both at the beginning of the process and at the end to measure progress. The result will be a healthier church with a specific understanding of what gifts, experiences and passions their next pastor would need. Expect this ministry to take 18 months.
      • Mission Study Interim Ministry. Dreaming and developing the “next chapter” in a church’s history can be a vital step in preparing to call a pastor. If your church attendance is not stagnant or declining, this process may be good to use. Expect this ministry to take 12-18 months.
      • Healing/Reconciling Interim Ministry. This would be a multi-year process to bring peace and reconciliation to a congregation that is grieving and/or divided. Expect this ministry to take 3--5 years.
      • Fresh Start Interim Ministry. When a congregation comes to a place of severe decline, severe aging, or a drastically changed neighborhood, the best choice may be one of several forms of “restart” or “rebirth” or “graceful closure”. This ministry can take anywhere from 6-24 months. This can include:
        • Moving to a new location
        • Seeking an infusion of new people and new/different ministry from another church
        • A “Sabbath-Rest” closure to retool and reopen as a new congregation with a new ministry
        • Becoming a multi-ethnic/multi-cultural congregation
        • Adopting a congregation of another ethnicity to succeed yours
        • Nesting a congregation with a different ministry style in your building to succeed yours
        • Graciously closing the church and donating the resources to further ministry in other places or in other forms.
      Some specific requirements I have for SIM/R will be:
      1. An Interim Ministry Team or a Church Health Team: a group of lay leaders who will lead the Interim Ministry while I coach them. This will provide greater ownership of the Ministry by the congregation and greater wisdom on how to best proceed. I will coach this team through the various activities, taking a lead role when they think it best. This team can be the Consistory or include Consistory members, though Team meetings will take place outside of the Consistory meetings.
      2. AND either
        1. An agreement to enter into a Natural Church Development-centered Interim Ministry

          Or

        2. An agreement to submit to a firSTep© survey before an interim contract is signed

    For more information see: