Every small business or organization hoping to be successful needs to find their niche—that area of expertise or specialization, or that spot in the marketplace that is generally underserved. VitalChurch Ministry, a small nonprofit organization that was founded more than 20 years ago to help churches that find themselves in a time of transition or crisis, has found their niche. They offer Christian churches a full-service approach to church revitalization that is hard to find elsewhere. Their team of pastors works together to help churches in tough situations find their way back to the place where they can have fruitful ministries.
From the beginning, their team of interim pastors has worked in a very collaborative way. They understood that the church revitalization process requires the gifts of more than one individual pastor, and they have taken a team approach that isn’t found in many other interim pastor ministries. Typically when a church needs an interim pastor, they will contract with an interim pastor organization that will send a pastor to the church to walk them through their time of transition until they find a new lead pastor to take the helm.
With VitalChurch’s collaborative approach, however, they first send in a team of diagnostic experts who do a deep evaluation of the church to determine where the church is struggling. A church may have an idea of where their issues lie, but when the church is evaluated further, other things often come to light. When a church is presented with the results from their diagnostic assessment by members of the VitalChurch team, they are also given a roadmap consisting of a list of suggestions for addressing the issues that came up in the assessment. From there, a church will either choose to work through their issues themselves or bring in an interim pastor to walk them through the process.
If they choose to work with a VitalChurch interim pastor, the church will be carefully matched with an interim pastor, based on the needs of the church and the gifts of the pastor. The interim pastor assigned to the church will spend a significant amount of time—often 18-24 months—at the church’s location. He will not only provide the preaching on Sundays, but organizational leadership as well, and he will immerse himself in the church, working with existing staff and leadership and shepherding the congregation. But he won’t do it alone. Other members of the VitalChurch team will offer additional help and guidance, depending on the church’s needs. For example, if the church’s governance structure needs revamping, VitalChurch will bring in one of their experts on church governance.
Kevin Beehner, who is an Executive Pastor at a church that chose to bring in an interim pastor from VitalChurch, said,
[Our VitalChurch interim pastor] had the expertise to fast track our church to appropriate actions and change based on the survey results. [He] carried a leadership load that eased the burden of our existing leaders and led us through some hard but necessary changes. I appreciated the collaborative approach that VitalChurch used with the mentors and coaches involved with helping [our interim pastor] discern direction and decisions for our church.”
The pastors at VitalChurch are about much more than just getting churches through a hard time—they are there to bring about true revitalization. And as with any true organizational transformation, everyone needs to be on board with the process. As VitalChurch’s website explains, they only work with churches that are “willing to face and deal with the real issues, regardless of how difficult it may be to do so” and those that are “open to change.”
There are other interim pastor ministries out there that offer a temporary solution for churches that want to maintain the status quo and not make any serious changes before hiring their next lead pastor, but VitalChurch is not one of them. They are in the business of change, revitalization, and restoration for churches that are willing to put in the work, and they’ll use all of the experts on their team to get it done!