SUMMARY – IMA Survey Winter 2019

SUMMARY – IMA Survey Winter 2019

31 Reponses As of December 26, 2019

This is a brief summary of responses to the IMA Survey of ELCA Intentional Interim Ministers conducted in the Winter newsletter of 2019. To see all responses, scroll down.

 

  • What are the most important issues facing ELCA Interim Ministers?

  • With the influx of new bishops, it is important to educate synod staff members about the philosophy of INTENTIONAL interim ministry and the importance of training – and even the idea of supporting those non-retired pastors for whom this IS their ministry calling.
  • A common definition of terms across the synods.
  • Consistency across the ELCA Synods in the following areas: what Interim Ministry is, and isn’t; 2. process for appointments; 3. compensation for “in between” assignments.
    • There is no consistency between and among synods/bishops of our role.
  • The great need for Intentional Interims and the great shortage of Intentional Interims in various synods. The failure of bishops/synod staffs to understand the specifics of Intentional Interim ministry. Synods may require pastors to receive Intentional Interim Ministry training, yet bishops/synod staff do not know much about the content of the training and thus, through their practices, contradict what a trained interim does and/or allows other pastors to serve as interims without training.
  • It seems that Synod Staff continues to treat all Interim ministers (those with training and those without) as though they are serving as place-holders. The message given to Interims appears to be don’t “stir things up” when trying to address unhealthy behaviors that contribute to unhappiness between pastors and congregations.
    • Support and standards.

In addition:

  • Inability to afford full-time pastor & the need for many interims to have full-time jobs.
  • The increasing number of ELCA congregations who are struggling financially and unable to pay for a full-time intentional interim pastor.
  • The shortage of ELCA pastors so that in many synods an interim situation may be lengthened simply for lack of any suitable candidates.
    • A significant number of interim positions are in places where there needs to be serious discussion about legacy and closure. More training is needed in this area. The United Church of Christ is miles ahead of the ELCA in this regard. (The material I’ve utilized has been extremely helpful.)
    • How to get the ELCA to keep us on the Roster as long as we are Interims.
  • Current thinking seems to be that shorter “transitional ministry” times are better than intentional interim ministry.

 

 

  • Do you favor holding the IMA Annual Membership Meeting at:

9 The Annual LuTMA (formerly NALIP} conference

6 The Annual IMN Conference

2 At both conferences

7 At neither conference

7 NO RESPONSE

 

  • Are you willing to consider involvement with IMA as a board member or a committee member?

4 Select All

5 IMA Board

1 Membership Committee

5 Publicity Committee

19 NO RESPONSE

 

  • Would you utilize the opportunity to connect with other pastors practicing Intentional Interim Ministry?

25 Yes

6 No

 

  • Would you utilize the opportunity to connect with other pastors practicing Intentional Interim Ministry? If you answered Yes:

11 Select All

7 Through geographic proximity

5 Through social media platforms, such as a closed Facebook page

6 Through conference call or video conference (e.g., Zoom) formats

1 Other: (Please describe below)

2 NO RESPONSE

 

__________________________________________________________

 

IMA Survey Winter 2019

As of December 26, 2019

31 Responses

 

  • Do you favor holding the IMA Annual Membership Meeting at:

9 The Annual LuTMA (formerly NALIP} conference

6 The Annual IMN Conference

2 At both conferences

7 At neither conference

7 NO RESPONSE

 

  • What are the most important issues facing ELCA Interim Ministers?
  • As someone who has received interim ministry training but has not been asked to serve (despite identifying myself as a potential interim), the greatest challenge for me has been learning how to enter the interim ministry network.
  • Consistency across the ELCA Synods in the following areas: what Interim Ministry is, and isn’t, 2. process for appointments;  3. compensation for “in between” assignments.
  • A sufficient number available to serve in our area (North Iowa.)
  • The great need for Intentional Interims and the great shortage of Intentional Interims in various synods.
    The failure of bishops/synod staffs to understand the specifics of Intentional Interim ministry. Synods may require pastors to received Intentional Interim Ministry training, yet bishops/synod staff do not know much about the content of the training and thus, through their practices, contradict was a trained interim does and/or allows other pastors to serve as interims without training.
  • Dealing with conflicted congregations and uncooperative members.
  • Support and standards.
  • Training of synodical leadership to use effectively; cost effective training; more detailed compensation details for varied models and time commitments
  • Inability to afford full-time pastor & the need for many to have full-time jobs; congregations who are not open to calling clergy who are not white cis males; internal conflict unresolved.
  • Develop conflict resolution skills and teaching good conflict management to church leaders.
  • With the influx of new bishops, it is important to educate synod staff members about the philosophy of INTENTIONAL interim ministry and the importance of training – and even the idea of supporting those non-retired pastors for whom this IS their ministry calling.
  • I don’t believe that it is valued by bishops and staffs

 

 

  • Dealing helpfully with congregations in pain/conflict/turmoil that do not want to put in the hard work of transformation.
    2. Helping the “former” pastor to stay out of the church activities/services/needs
    3. Negotiating a just salary when some perceive us as “almost a real pastor”
    4. Forging a solid team out of divergent church leaders, some apposing one another.
    5. Helping church/leaders to face reality when their congregation is going to closure.
    6. Encouraging generosity in touch economic times.
    7. Getting congregants focus/obsession off of “more members and more money.”
    8. Detecting when we are trying to push rope.
    9. How to step aside when necessary and let churches make their own mistakes.
    10. How to get the ELCA to keep us on the Roster as long as we are Interims.
    11. Convincing folks that Interims are worth it, and know what they are doing.
    12. Understanding young people when our average age is close or above retirement.

 

  • Current thinking seems to be that shorter “transitional ministry” times are better than intentional interim ministry.
  • It seems that Synod Staff continues to treat all Interim ministers (those with training and those without) as though they are serving as place-holders. The message given to Interims appears to be don’t “stir things up” when trying to address unhealthy behaviors that contribute to unhappiness between pastors and congregations.
  • Having enough ministers trained to fill all the spots which are going to need them in the coming months.
  • The increasing number of ELCA congregations who are struggling financially and unable to pay for a full-time intentional interim pastor.
  • The shortage of ELCA pastors so that in many synods an interim situation may be lengthened simply for lack of any suitable candidates.
  • Many Interim Pastors do not have the financial cushion (savings) I have, and they struggle with “gaps” between service and how to pay for health insurance and living expenses. This can affect their performance in ministry and their well-being during gaps. Some Synods are hesitant to have many trained intentional interims because of wanting to avoid an over-supply of intentional interims and the resulting length and frequency of gaps.
  • Congregations do not understand reason or need for interim ministry. There needs to be better preparation of congregations for the work of the interim period. Congregations see interim pastors as useful for “filling time” and “saving money”.
  1. Our synod is not utilizing its own trained interim ministers, but largely utilizes interim pastors from other denominations. Most interim positions by ELCA clergy are filled with retired pastors. The training is losing credibility among ELCA clergy in our synod for this reason.
  2. A significant number of interim positions are in places where there needs to be serious discussion about legacy and closure. More training is needed in this area. The United Church of Christ is miles ahead of the ELCA in this regard. (The material I’ve utilized has been extremely helpful.)
  • Having goals clearly defined by both the interim pastor and the congregation.

Continual training to anticipate and respond to concerns of congregations in their relationship to the interim pastor.

Continuing ed for interims.

  • We’re at yet another reformation point in the church and Interim Ministers need to be ready to help congregations navigate some turbulent and uncharted waters as we learn what is essential for the fulfilling of our ministry in the gospel and what can be jettisoned, regardless of how beloved it may once have been. ALL pastors need to be working on this, but Interim ministers and Intentional Interim pastors are in a unique position to bring some experience to bear in a non-threatening way because churches can no longer ignore the writing on the wall. Our Lord calls us into ministry in the realities of this changing culture and this is first-order work.
  • Supporting and connecting recognized and validated transitional ministry to the needs of the church.
  • A common definition of terms across the synods.
  • In our synod, fulltime ministry is becoming more rare. So this presents a financial issue for Interims.
  • We are undervalued and misunderstood (and even abused) by Synod and Churchwide personnel. There is not consistence between and among synods/bishops of our role.
    • Could annual LuTMA meetings be done by ZOOM or a similar platform and/or elections held by electronic mail using something like mailchimp? Holding an official voting meeting at one conference penalizes those who attend the other. If someone attends both, does he/she vote once or twice? Holding a digital meeting would be a way to involve members regardless of which conference they attend. Face to face meetings could be done periodically, say, every 2-3 years to hold discussions at the meetings and then vote electronically later to avoid conflicted votes. The meetings could be for discussion and the Board could develop the election questions for changes to By-Laws and elections of Board members. A key issue for you will be to identify dues-paying members to validate the voting. Membership is a key problem for small organizations to maintain clear records of payment status to ensure valid votes. Maybe people who want to attend the meeting will pay the dues to ensure they can speak at the meetings and vote. Regardless of when, where and how you hold official meetings the denominations gatherings at both conferences is valuable.

 

 

  • Are you willing to consider involvement with IMA as a board member or a committee member?

4 Select All

5 IMA Board

1 Membership Committee

5 Publicity Committee

19 NO RESPONSE

 

  • Would you utilize the opportunity to connect with other pastors practicing Intentional Interim Ministry?

25 Yes

6 No

 

  • Would you utilize the opportunity to connect with other pastors practicing Intentional Interim Ministry? If you answered Yes:

11 Select All

7 Through geographic proximity

5 Through social media platforms, such as a closed Facebook page

6 Through conference call or video conference (e.g., Zoom) formats

1 Other: (Please describe below)

I believe it is possible to assemble information that other interim pastors have found useful in one place, such as the IMA-ELCA website, so that the information is searchable. For example, the ELCA Interim Pastor Facebook page has discussed many specific situations. If a particular discussion is found to be helpful by other interim pastors, the information can be stored (WITHOUT NAMES!) on a website such as the IMA-ELCA one. We can encourage all interim pastors to contribute thoughts or articles of interest.

2 NO RESPONSE

 

Other opportunities to connect with other pastors practicing Intentional Interim Ministry.

 

  • Our synod has an interim support group but many do not attend it as it would mean an
  • additional colleague group.
  • Directly contacting colleagues myself.
  • I am now retired, but continue to support intentional interim ministry.
  • Gathering at our annual Synod Assemblies, but not just to say “Hi” and how have you been. But to gather in special workshops/seminars geared especially for Interim work. And not just one token event at an Assembly, but five of six, all with different themes
  • Perhaps a lunchtime meeting of Intentional Interims quarterly to refresh skills in guiding leadership during the “in-between” residential pastorates.
  • Within Lower Susquehanna Synod or within 50 miles of Carlisle, PA
  • I have been a regular participant in most of the IMN’s webinar classes. They have been done well and have provided an opportunity to network with other clergy to process the work of intentional interim ministry.

 

Additional Comments

 

I am retired and no longer doing interims.

Although I have served 20 interims (as well as three regular calls) I have never taken formal training. I am sure I would benefit from participation but have not thought the cost (as a non-member) productive. This is likely my last interim (though I thought my previous interim would be my last. My present interim is shared with a colleague and has been well-received by the congregation according to reports from non-members. We learn from each other and set specific areas of responsibility, I am leading confirmation, we alternate preaching/liturgy, and my partner has worked with committees on constitutional issues as well as other committees. We are unaware of others who have served in this way and it would be interesting to hear about them.

 

I am not currently doing intentional interim ministry, but am thinking about doing so as I approach retirement.

 

I am actually in a call, but maybe looking at interim in the future. I did do the interim training through NALIP and two years ago IMN training: THE WORK OF THE LEADER AND THE WORK OF THE CONGREGATION.

 

At the present time I am not serving a congregation due to continued monitoring of leukemia. It is my hope to be able to serve in some way in the future. I have been in conversation with my bishop about ways to improve a connection among the interim pastors in our synod. It is my hope that this gets done even if by someone other than me.

 

My synod has regular interim minister meetings which I attend. That suffices for me. Thanks.

 

There is a continuing need to work at developing congregations’ understanding of discerning mission in the congregation’s locale.

 

Even though I am now retired, I’m will to be involved in certain types of activities to help intentional interim ministry.

 

My congregation will be closing sometime between May 1st – August 31st 2020. I am on retirement status but am not of retirement age, and am anticipating immersing myself more in interim ministry.

 

Not to be too harsh, but if this survey is based on what’s considered to be the most pressing needs facing LuTMA, IMN, and IMA-ELCA — where to have membership meetings, serving on boards and committees, and how to stay in touch — then I’m not sure even this brief reply is going to be a wise use of my time. Like so much of our church these days, this seems to be rearranging deck chairs in a time where decisive ministry needs to take place, but I’ll continue to pay attention to the orgs noted above because this COULD be a valuable resource. Just my plugged nickel.

 

I am no longer doing Interim Ministry. You can leave my name on the mailing list. I do occasionally find items of interest to read. Thanks!