Definitions Of Interim Terms

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Transition Ministries

The umbrella name for the American Baptist Churches national office that provides interim leaders for churches and agencies and responds to interim questions and concerns. The program was formerly called “Interim Ministries-ABC.”

It includes the following programs:


Primarily retired clergy doing residential interim leadership. Program began in 1974 and serves about 8% of all the interim needs of the ABC.

Appointed Interim Pastors:

ABC clergy who find themselves in transition, need employment and are actively searching for a call. Requires regional nomination with only twelve positions available at any given time. Benefits are greater than for M.A.L.s.

Interim Ministry Specialists:

Full-time and career interim clergy who have been trained and certified to do intentional interim ministry by the Interim Ministry Network or other equivalent educational process.

After Care Congregation

A congregation that has experienced a major break in trust with a former pastor. It usually means clergy sexual misconduct has occurred, or it could be another breach of moral or criminal clergy ethics. Specific skills and tasks are called for in such circumstances.

Center For Congregational Heath

This Center has one arm of ministry to train traditional and intentional interim practitioners and has resources to explain interim processes to congregations. It also does consulting from its Winston-Salem, North Carolina, base.

Five Developmental Tasks

An Alban Institute researched set of factors that seem nearly universal to churches in their interim times. Loren Mead authored these findings, and they’ve held for more than 20 years.

  1. Recovering the church’s history.
  2. Claiming a new identity.
  3. Opening to new leadership.
  4. Strengthening denominational relationships.
  5. Preparing for the new pastor.

Intentional Interim

A term to delineate an interim pastor who has been specifically called and trained to help churches through this chapter in their life. It usually means a one to two year, full-time interim with services and cost equivalent to the usual pastoral contract.

Interim Consultant

A short-term leader to consult with either the interim pastor or interim church regarding specific transitional issues.

Local Interim

Typically a pastor from the immediate geographic area of the interim church who contracts directly with the church. One who commutes to the position.

Long-term Interim

Any interim situation in which the church, clergy and denomination agree that at least a year is needed before it is advisable to start a search for a next pastor.

Supply Pastor

One who offers to preach and lead worship in different churches on a regular basis. Sometimes used to designate a person who does Sunday-only ministries for an interim church.

Supply Speaker

An occasional preacher and worship leader for a church-lay or clergy.

Systems Thinking in Interim Ministry

The application of theory and practice developed by Dr. Edwin H. Friedman, known to most through his book, Generation to Generation, 1985.  Principles of “family systems” studies are applied to congregations, which are perceived as a larger family system.


The intentional work done to turn a declining or stagnant church to a growing missional, or vital congregation.