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Interim Ministry Training

It is still a surprise to some of us that Interim Ministry has a place in the United Methodist Church. In the typical sequence of pastoral appointments there is no interim time! However, Loren Mead, former head of the Alban Institute, has awakened us to the truth that “pastoral change is a critical moment in the life of the congregation.” Broadened, we are learning that all change (pastoral, situational, circumstantial) creates a critical moment in the life of a congregation. Interim Ministry Training is a highly inclusive term for a Seminar designed to equip pastors for ministry in times of change. The following terms help us understand Interim Ministry better. They are not totally interchangeable but the interaction of their various meanings help open our minds to this specialized, focused ministry:


INTERIM MINISTRY: A term inherited from churches of the “call system identifying that pastor who leads a congregation after the “regular pastor” has departed and before the new pastor is installed. For United Methodists Interim Ministry is found in Par 338.3 of the 2008 Discipline, first placed there by action of the 1996 General Conference.

TRANSITION: Perhaps a better term for United Methodist polity, it denotes a time of change either necessitated by circumstances or initiated by leadership, from what “was” to what is hoped to be.

TRANSFORMATION: A spiritual re-awakening or deepening or re-birth in a congregation, a reclaiming of their call to ministry in that community. Frequently this comes about under the continuing but re-focused leadership of the same pastor—not a change of pastor but a changed pastoral focus.

SABBATICAL MINISTRY: The work of a pastor who serves while the regularly appointed pastor (who intends to return to that congregation) is on Sabbatical Leave. The Sabbatical Pastor is not so much a change agent as one who leads in continuing and deepening the ongoing ministry of the congregation.

TRAINING SEMINAR: For each of these unique ministries specialized training is most valuable. While highly competent and experienced pastors may be capable of furnishing such leadership, a training seminar to equip them with tools and techniques to maximize this opportunity is an obvious benefit.


The Intentional Growth Center is the only recognized provider of Interim Ministry training within the United Methodist Church. IGC offers numerous such Seminars throughout the nation each year.

This article is reproduced with permission from the Intentional Growth Center.

The Intentional Growth Center has a 34 year history of providing continuing education experiences in the work of ministry for both lay and clergy leaders of the Church. Its founders chartered IGC to be both ecumenical and national in its focus. IGC is located at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina but conducts training events throughout the nation.

To learn more about Interim Ministry Training Seminars or for further information about Interim Ministry in general, contact Rev. Dr. Larry Ousley, Executive Director of the Intentional Growth Center at or call 800-482-1442.

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