Archive for Newsletter Article

Photos from the NALIP Conference 2019

2019 NALIP Conference Attendees Celebrate 25th Anniversary





Pete Alexander (IMC-LCMS) and Dick Mathisen (IMA-ELCA) cut the 25th Anniversary Cake at the NALIP 2019 Annual Conference.










Interim Ministry “Alphabet Soup”

Interim Ministry “Alphabet Soup”

Most training for Lutheran intentional interim pastors is provided by two organizations, the Interim Ministry Network (IMN) and the National Association of Lutheran Interim Pastors (NALIP). Both groups run training classes for interim pastors and hold an annual conference.

IMN is the larger group. It runs about 12 training courses a year, consisting of a 3-day course, “The Work of the Leader” and a 5-day course, “The Work of the Congregation”, with practical experience in-between. It is ecumenical and inter-faith, with members from Christian denominations as well as Jewish rabbis and Unitarian Universalists.

NALIP serves primarily Lutheran pastors from the ELCA and Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, although it is open to other persons. NALIP runs about 4 training classes each year, consisting of two 5-day courses with practical experience in-between. Both the LCMS and the ELCA have an association of interim pastors. IMA is the Interim Ministry Association of the ELCA. IMC is the Interim Ministry Conference of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. NALIP has been, a joint activity of IMA and IMC, with a 4-member board composed of 2 members from IMA and 2 from IMC, but is in the process of re-structuring as LuTMA (Lutheran Transitional Ministry Association).

2019 NALIP Conference Reflections

2019 NALIP Conference Reflections

By Lois Van Orden, Chair, NALIP Conference Planning Committee

The 2019 NALIP Conference was held at the Maritime Conference Center in Baltimore, Maryland June 18-20. Overall, the evaluations reflected a positive reception of the conference site and the workshop format with the NALIP educators presenting the topics. Additionally, offering two workshops at the same time and repeating the topics was a well-received venue for encouraging greater participation.

We give thanks for the educators who presented the following workshop topics: Peter Alexander: “Contracting, Covenants and Pre-entry Practices” and “The Big Transition: Discovering a Missional Mindset for a Post-Christian Church”; Beth Marie Halvorsen: “Using ‘Centered Flexibility’ in Crisis or Major Transitions”; Rev. Martin E. (Schroeder) Lee: “Organizational Learning and the Intentional Interim Pastor (Theory)” and “Cultivating Learning during the IIM Assignment” (Practicum); and Timm Griffin:   “FOC-US”

We appreciate Fred Poeppel who once again served as MC – with humor and as an efficient time-keeper, and for the chaplaincy leadership of Susan Williamson who offered humorous devotions based on the wit of Martin Luther. We express gratitude for the Rev. Dr. John Denninger, LCMS Southeastern District President who became the solo judicatory guest because of a very last-minute family emergency for ELCA Bishop of the Delaware Maryland Synod, Bill (William) Gohl.

Plans are already underway for the 2020 Conference to be held June 23-25 in a western U.S. location (Denver? San Diego? Other possibilities?). Excellent suggestions were offered by the conference participants for a keynote speaker. The Conference Planning Committee is engaged in contacts to determine availability, etc.

The Conference Planning Committee was presented with unique challenges this year with the unexpected illness of Executive Director Ken Ruppar. We greatly missed his expertise but thanks to his excellent leadership for past conferences, the committee regrouped, delegated tasks, and offered a well-received conference for the NALIP members. We thank the committee members: Lois Van Orden, Chair, Tom Schoech, Fred Poeppel, and Martin Haeger; and Acting Executive Director Sherrie Hofmann. We also a welcome new committee member Orinda Hawkins-Brinkley who volunteered to serve at the 2019 conference.

We look forward to the 2020 Conference and trust that all of you who could not attend the 2019 Conference, will save the date (June 23-25) for next year.

IMA Newsletter Fall 2019

IMA Newsletter Fall 2019

  1. NALIP Separates Officially from IMA-ELCA, Celebrates 25th Anniversary

At its 25th Annual Conference, the National Association of Lutheran Interim Pastors (NALIP) officially approved its re-structuring and separation from the Interim Ministry Association of the ELCA (IMA-ELCA) and the Interim Ministry Conference of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (IMC-LCMS). NALIP will be re-named the Lutheran Transitional Ministry Association (LuTMA). Its activities remain unchanged, the training courses for intentional interim ministers and its annual conference. For details on upcoming NALIP activities, see the NALIP website (

  1. Interim Ministry Network (IMN) Annual Conference – November 11-14 2019

The Interim Ministry Network will hold its 2019 Annual Conference November 11 to 14 in Baltimore MD at the Maritime Conference Center. For details see, the IMN website (

[If anyone is uncertain about terms such as NALIP, IMN, IMA or IMC, please see “Interim Ministry Alphabet Soup” elsewhere in this newsletter!]

  1. NALIP Restructuring to LuTMA

The NALIP Coordinating Council (NALIP’s Board of Directors) has been extended for one year, from June 2019 to June 2020 to oversee the transition to LuTMA. LuTMA will become effective at the NALIP / LuTMA Annual Conference June 21-23 2020.

  1. NALIP / LuTMA Executive Director Position

This fall there will be a search for an Executive Director to serve LuTMA. Watch for more information in future publications. Ken Ruppar, who was formerly the Executive Director of NALIP, is being treated for leukemia. Continuing prayers are requested for Ken. The Executive Director position is being temporarily filled by Sherrie Hofmann.


  1. IMA Board Actions

The IMA Board appointed two ELCA interim pastors, Lois Van Orden and Sherman Bishop, to one-year terms on the NALIP Coordinating Council (NALIP’s Board of Directors), and another pastor, Orinda Hawkins-Brinkle, to the NALIP Conference Planning Committee.

  1. NALIP Misconduct Workshop in Ohio August 12-14 2019

NALIP held a very successful “Misconduct in Congregations Workshop” in Stow OH August 12-14, with 27 attendees. It was sponsored by the ELCA, NALIP, and the Northeastern Ohio Synod. Presenters were: Barbara Keller, Therapist and ELCA Consultant for the Prevention of Misconduct; Beth Marie Halvorsen, Interim Pastor and NALIP Faculty Member; and Marcus Lohrmann, Interim Pastor and former bishop of the Northwestern Ohio Synod.

  1. Portico Contact for Intentional Interims Changes

IMA members thank Portico for providing a dedicated expert in dealing with changes for intentional interim pastors since January 2017.  Andrew Feller can be reached at 612.752.4060, or 800.352.2876 ext. 4060, fax 612.752.5060, or [email protected].

Interim Ministry Association of the ELCA (IMA-ELCA)

The Interim Ministry Association of the ELCA is a non-profit organization of ELCA Interim Ministers. We send our newsletter to our list of about 1500 ELCA ministers who have taken interim training from IMN, NALIP or other qualified organizations or who have served a synod call to interim ministry. Our website is  The members of the IMA Board are: Richard Klafehn, Chair; Robert Hansen, Treasurer; Richard Mathisen, Acting Secretary; Dan DeBlock, Newsletter Editor; Sherrie Hofmann; and Dwight Wascom.

Letter to Membership June 2019

IMA Newsletter June 2019

Interim Ministry Association of the ELCA (IMA-ELCA)

The Interim Ministry Association of the ELCA is a non-profit organization of ELCA Interim Ministers. We send our newsletter to our list of about 1500 ELCA ministers who have taken interim training from IMN, NALIP or other qualified organizations or who have served a synod call to interim ministry. Our website is

IMA Annual Meeting at NALIP Conference (June 18 2019)

In the past, the IMA Annual Meeting has been held only at the NALIP Conference. After NALIP completes some restructuring changes (see below), the location of any Annual Meetings will be flexible. This year’s meeting at the NALIP Conference will be held 4:45 pm on Wednesday, June 18, 2019.

  1. Last Call for NALIP Interim Ministry Conference 2019

The annual conference of the National Association of Lutheran Interim Pastors will be held June 18-20 at the Maritime Conference Center in Linthicum Heights MD. For information, go to

  1. NALIP Restructuring to LuTMA

The NALIP governing body has proposed a set of changes that will make NALIP a membership organization. These changes are expected to be approved at the June 2019 NALIP Conference. The impact of this transition will involve the official separation of IMA from NALIP when it is complete, because LuTMA will be a membership organization rather than being wholly-owned by IMA (ELCA interims) and IMC (LCMS interims).

  1. Effect of NALIP Restructuring on IMA Constitution

The IMA Constitution has already been modified in expectation of the NALIP Restructuring Changes. The IMA Constitution changes will take effect when the NALIP Restructuring is completed. Copies of the new IMA Constitution have been sent out.

  1. Survey of ELCA Interim Ministers

The IMA Board has requested comments from ELCA Interim Ministers about the future of IMA and the location of future IMA Annual Meetings. The possible location of future IMA Annual Meetings is at the LuTMA (previously NALIP) Conference, at the IMN Conference, or at both conferences. We encourage all ELCA interims to respond to this questionnaire. Comments may also be sent to Pastor Rick Klafehn, Chairperson, IMA Board, at Richard Klafehn <[email protected]>,

  1. IMA Board Openings

The IMA Board has openings for additional members of the Board. IMA Board Members are usually elected at IMA Annual Meetings, but there are other ways to become involved as a board member. For more information, please contact Richard Klafehn <[email protected]>,

  1. IMN Conference November 11-14 2019

The Annual Conference of the Interim Ministry Network will be held November 11-14 2019 at the Maritime Conference Center in Linthicum Heights MD. This is the first year that the IMN Conference will be held separately from the NALIP Conference. For information on the IMN Conference, go to:

  1. Possible IMA Annual Meeting at IMN Conference

The IMA Board has approved the possible occurrence of an IMA Annual Meeting at the IMN Conference November 11-14, if arrangements can be made. This would allow the election of new IMA Board members at that conference.

  1. Prayers for Ken Ruppar

We request prayers for Ken Ruppar. Ken is undergoing treatment for leukemia diagnosed in March. His home address is 14615 Houghton St., Chesterfield VA 23832. (Ken resigned as Executive Director of NALIP due to illness.)

  1. Portico Contact to Intentional Interims

IMA members are very pleased with Portico for providing a dedicated expert in dealing with intentional interim pastors since January 2017.  Andrew Feller can be reached at 612.752.4060, or 800.352.2876 ext. 4060, fax 612.752.5060, or [email protected]. The original Portico announcement is attached. (Dan, in case you don’t have it handy.

The IMA Board

Richard Klafehn, Chair

Robert Hansen, Treasurer

Richard Mathisen, Acting Secretary

Dan DeBlock, Newsletter Editor

Sherrie Hofmann

Dwight Wascom


[See Attached Questionnaire]



  1. Do you favor holding the IMA Annual Membership Meeting at
  2. The Annual LutMA / NALIP conference?
  3. The Annual IMN Conference?
  4. At both conferences?
  5. At neither conference?


  1. What are the most important issues facing ELCA Interim Ministers?

[Open-ended question allowing for write-in answers]


  1. Are you willing to consider involvement with IMA as a board member or a committee member?
  2. iMA Board
  3. Membership Committee
  4. Publicity Committee

Challenges Facing The Area Parish By Dan DeBlock

What is an area parish? Although churches are more often simply called congregations and have no geographic boundaries, in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America congregations are called parishes if four or more congregations are organized together under the care of a pastoral staff. Area parishes have been used most often to group rural congregations that are often small and or declining. The purpose of grouping congregations together is to help congregations that cannot afford a full-time pastor. In most cases, the hope is to avoid closing the congregation.

There is also a secondary purpose that is most often expressed but difficult to accomplish. Congregations join pooling resources in the hopes of bringing about vitality and energy in the congregation for its mission.

With some of the smaller congregations’ in an area parish, conversations have had to focus on setting up a living will. This helps to answer the questions: “At what point do we close the church? And what do we do with the remaining building, resources, and artifacts? How best to honor the service that has been done?”

The formation of an area parish of four of more congregations can result in a parish with all the components of a large congregation. The Sunday worship community and the weekly offering can be substantial, allowing for the calling of a senior or lead pastor and an associate to include the hiring of additional administrative staff. Yet, all five basic leadership systems that need to be in an alliance can be out of balance for this newly formed large congregation.

More to come. Please feel free to comment.

Teaching Fish to Walk

Teaching Fish to Walk: Church Systems and Adaptive Challenge by Peter L.  Steinke; Available from New Vision Press, Austin, TX. 2016.  $20

Review by John Czarnota


Peter Steinke tells of how a particular fish was, in fact, taught to walk. The Bichir, a “snake-like” amphibious fish, indigenous to Africa, was “taught” to walk by placing it on land for eight months, despite a clear preference for the water. The fish learned to walk, changing muscular structure even, to adapt to the new environment.

This scientific story serves as the underlying metaphor for Stenke’s latest book on systems work in the church. For those familiar with Steinke from his other works, they have come to expect the surprising wisdom of systems theory applied to the congregational context. This is certainly the case in this latest volume.

This work though is not a general systems approach. It specifically delves into the issues of adaptive change -buzzwords in our “the church is dying” era. Adaptive challenges, by their very nature, defy the “quick fix” approaches our culture, and thus our churches, find so addictive.  Adaptive change means being put in an environment for a prolonged period of time where struggle is required. Reconfiguring muscle structure doesn’t happen to non-challenged, water-happy fish.

Steinke’s book thus serves as a major challenge. As leaders in systems thinking, we are encouraged to expose the true environment of our congregations to its leadership, leaving them to learn to walk. We are to resist giving quick fixes, but instead to cheer-lead the indigenous process of re-inventing ourselves. The process is made more challenging by not having a clear end direction. If we knew that an adaptive change process leads to X, then we’d jump right to X. Instead, congregations are called to work and struggle and fuss until the old pulls of homeostasis die, and new adaptive strategies can fully emerge. It is imaginative work. It is dreaming. It is becoming comfortable with frustration and disappointment.

In digesting this book, I felt personally challenged. This is a tall order to do, particularly in the role of an interim. I also felt that this was precisely the challenges we are called to lead churches into at this time, but -it is a doozy! It’s a heavy prophetic work, truly pushing us professional change agents, out of our comfort zone and “quick fix” models, that have worked in the past.

I was grateful for having read Steinke’s previous work, “A Door Set Open”, prior to diving into “Teaching Fish to Walk”. “A Door Set Open” carries strong notes of hope and missional verve. “Teaching Fish to Walk” conveys a feeling of picking up a heavy burden. The two combined leave systems thinkers with some new challenges and a heavy load, but also with hope in and for God’s church on earth. We are invited to switch from “changing to” to “an experience of change”. One that, tempered with hope, is a place of joy, even as we struggle together with new realities. I come away appreciating Steinke’s honest treatment of reality and insightful systems comments. Maybe, this fish too may learn to walk, as I apply an expanded grasp of adaptive challenges into my systems thinking and leadership.

The Financial Relationship of a Church and its Preschool

When a church establishes a preschool, it typically subsidizes the preschool for the first few years of operation. After that initial period, the question arises as to what the financial relationship should be between the church and a preschool owned and operated by that church.

There are three general principles that will be helpful in discussing this topic.

Principle I – The Preschool is a ministry, not a tenant.

Principle II – The Preschool ought to reimburse the church for all out-of-pocket expenses directly attributable to the Preschool.

Principle III — The Preschool ought to make such additional contributions to the church as seem appropriate.

Principle I – Ministry, not Tenant

The most important principle is that the Preschool is a ministry and not a tenant. The Preschool is not charged “rent” for its use of space in the church facility. The Preschool should always be referred to as “we” and not as “they.”

Principle II – Full Reimbursement

The second important principle is that the Preschool ought to reimburse the church for all out-of-pocket expenses. Examples:

Insurance and Workers Compensation – The insurance company is usually able to provide a breakdown of how much of the premium is due to the church and how much to the Preschool. The Preschool can then pay its full share. The mechanics of this can be complex, but the principle is simple.

Telephone – The Preschool normally has its own telephone and pays its own telephone bill, including the amount for any yellow pages advertising.

Electricity – The Preschool ought to reimburse the church for electricity used by the Preschool. This requires estimating and approximation. Read the meter to compare Sunday usage versus weekday usage. Also, compare weekday usage when the Preschool is not in session to weekday usage when the Preschool is in session. The Preschool ought to reimburse for the amount of electricity usage directly attributable to the Preschool, i.e., the amount above and beyond the usage normally incurred by the church when the Preschool is closed. Air conditioning usage may introduce some complications in the calculation, but the principle remains simple.

Heat – The Preschool ought to reimburse the church for heating costs incurred by the Preschool. This can be very difficult to estimate. If heating is by gas, it is possible to use the gas meter in much the same manner as the electric meter is used above (comparing Sundays to weekdays and weekdays when school is in session to weekdays when the school is closed). The computation is made more difficult by factors such as the outside temperature (degree-days). When heating is by fuel oil, estimating is even more difficult. The basic rule is that you find out what it would cost to heat the facility if there were no Preschool. Do not assume that the church goes unheated if there is no Preschool. It is still necessary to maintain some temperature such as 60 degrees. It is also necessary to heat the facility for Council and Committee meetings, Boy Scout or Girl Scout troops, church events, community events, and all other normal activities other than the Preschool. You compare the heating costs if there were no operating Preschool to the actual costs. The difference is what the Preschool ought to reimburse for. In many cases, it is necessary to simply make a reasonable guess.

Utilities – In most cases, the Preschool simply reimburses the church for heat and electric utilities as a single monthly payment of a predetermined amount, such as $600 per month. This is much easier than attempting to make the calculations described above. The purpose of describing the calculations above is so that in cases of dispute it is possible to determine if the monthly amount is a reasonable approximation of the true cost.

Maintenance Items – The Preschool ought to reimburse the church for usage of paper towels, toilet paper, soap, and light bulbs, to the extent such usage is by the Preschool. For fluorescent bulbs, ballasts may be included. All of this requires estimation.

Wear and Tear – Above and beyond the above items, the normal operation of a Preschool causes a certain amount of wear and tear on a facility. Floors may need to be refinished or replaced, carpets wear out, walls may need to be repainted or repaired, etc. Part of this cost is attributable to the Preschool It is very difficult to estimate, but this wear and tear is definitely a cost due directly to the operation of the Preschool.



Interim Consult – SEPA – March 14, 2012                               Pastor Richard A. Mathisen


  1. The Role of the Interim Minister with regard to a Church School


  1. The School is a Business


  1. Financial Status – Deficit / Surplus


  1. Financial Reserves [Rule of Thumb – Three months budgeted expenses]


  1. Financial Controls and Handling of Money


  1. Legal Relationship – Constitution, By-laws, Liability


  1. Marketing, Price-setting, Long-range Planning


  1. Legal Counsel


  1. Employee Compensation


  1. Delinquent Parents, Collections, Subsidies


  1. Manual for Parents


  1. Manual for Employees


  1. Conflicts between Church and School


  1. Facility Usage – Scheduling and Storage Space


  1. Payments to Church (See Worksheet)


  1. Communications – Use of the Church Newsletter


  1. Working Relationship – Liaisons and Role of Minister


  1. Gaining New Church Members from the School


  1. Pastor as Teacher — Telling Bible Stories in the School


  1. The “School Sunday”


Copyright 2012 – No copying without permission from [email protected]

WORKSHEET — Financial Relationship of a Church and a Church School


This worksheet is intended to be helpful in evaluating the proper financial relationship between a church school and the church. Two principles guide the financial relationship:


1 – The church school is a ministry, not a tenant. It does not pay rent for space used.


2 – After start-up, the church school ought to reimburse the church for all out-of-pocket expenses caused by the existence of the school.



A                    B                      C


Cost                 Net Cost

ANNUAL FINANCIAL PAYMENT            Actual cost      if no school     (A minus B)



  1. Annual heating cost (oil/gas/etc) ________ ________        ________

(Specify temperature in degrees ______)


  1. Annual electricity usage ________ ________        ________


  1. Water usage ________ ________        ________


  1. Telephone usage (if not separate) ________


  1. Copier Usage (if not separate) ________


  1. Secretarial services (if not separate) ________


  1. Portion of liability insurance ________


  1. Portion of Workers Compensation insurance ________


  1. Bathroom supplies (towels, toilet paper, cups, etc.) ________


  1. Janitorial services (if not separate) ________


  1. Portion of snow removal ________


  1. Portion of outdoor property care (playground, lawn, etc) ________


  1. Portion of indoor property care (paint, maintenance) ________


Copyright 2012 – No copying without permission from [email protected]