The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Preparing the soil

Congregations need transition pastors

The October "My View" (page 53) raised questions about the ELCA call process-and, to me, about how intentional interim ministry is viewed. An interim period is a rich time for the developmental work that needs to be accomplished in a congregation if the next called long-term pastor is to avoid membership in the all-too-frequently crowded arena of "unintentional interim pastors."

Research by the Alban Institute, a resource for congregations, and its president emeritus, Loren B. Mead, reveals the high cost of filling the departing pastor's chair before it has cooled. In fact, congregational leaders may even realize the need for a new kind of pastor's chair.

Svingen is serving as interim pastor
Svingen is serving as interim pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Ankeny, Iowa.
Far too many sad stories exist of pastors arriving in a congregation, expecting the warm welcome and hospitality of prepared soil. Instead they find they were cast upon hard, uneven chunks of "emotional plowing" that rejected the spiritual seed they had come to plant and nurture.

Many of these deceived and wounded pastors, sadly, then look outside the ordained ministry for a safer vocational terrain. Those pastors, their families, the congregations involved and the larger church all paid a heavy price to try to keep up momentum. And the uneven soils of corporate grief and normal transitional emotions remained sadly uncultivated.

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