Interim vs. Candidate

Rationale for the Interim Pastor NOT Being a Candidate

A question is often raised by a congregation, call committee, or even by an interim pastor in words such as the following: “Why is it considered unethical, and not normal practice, for a congregation to consider calling the interim pastor as the new permanent pastor for that congregation?”

From the experience of those persons who have worked closely with the process of clergy mobility we find that question answered.

Following is listed the rationale for NOT considering the interim pastor for the permanent call in a local congregation:

  1. An interim has an advantage over other possible candidates who may desire to be considered for the position because he/she has more visibility to the congregation. This makes it unfair to others who may be interested in the position, but who will not have the same visibility.
  2. An interim will always have a following but will also almost always have those who are not favorably committed to him/her. If he/she were to be called to the position of ministry, there may be built-in opposition from the very beginning. Likewise, if the pastor were not called, there may be some in the congregation who will be upset.
  3. If the decision is made to consider the interim along with the others being considered, and the interim does not get the position, there could be hurt feelings that would jeopardize the remainder of his/her interim work until a new pastor is called.
  4. The congregation itself may pass up better leadership than it is getting, even with a good interim, if it fails to consider a larger number of potential pastoral candidates.
  5. Interim ministry is unique, and an interim pastor may often lead in ways that would be acceptable as an interim but would not be acceptable to some in the congregation were he/she to remain as permanent pastor.
  6. Other pastors will know of the pastoral ethics involved and will know that those have been broken if an interim is called. The result could be a lack of fellowship and broken relationships with other pastors.
  7. A precedent could be set which would result in pastors seeking interim positions with the specific idea in their minds of putting themselves in a better position to be considered and called as the regular pastor thus greatly damaging the whole clergy mobility process.

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