One congregational survey respondent asked why it's taking so long to elect a Pastor Nominating Committee and get on with a search for a new Pastor. I've had an in-person chat with someone with the same question. My hunch there are others who are asking the same thing, so let me explain.
The most important reason time is taken after a long, healthy pastorate is that the separation process can be more involved. When a beloved Pastor departs a congregation, many relationships are severed or altered. Healing the wound of loss takes time for some people; others get over it more readily. The longer the pastorate, the longer the healing process... usually.
At core, my work is to help the church's leaders and laypeople
prepare for tackling the issues before them
Moreover, in the current culture, where more people are leaving religion altogether, congregations find themselves facing pretty big challenges and when they are in transition those challenges tend to get magnified, i.e. the "in-between time" uncertainty can increase which can lead to a higher level of anxiety.
The average length most Interim Pastors stay with a church is 18 months. And as I've said, we are on track for that kind of timeframe IF all goes well over the next few months.
At core, my work is to help the church's leaders and laypeople prepare for tackling the issues before them so the new Pastor won't have to worry about too much when they arrive. While most pastors will enter new pastorates with challenges (due to cultural forces), some challenges are more pronounced than others. Every congregation changes in some way during the transition. That's normal.
Calvin Church is currently going through a transition in its membership which is effecting finances. People are moving away from the area, some are transitioning to "empty nester" status and are traveling, some are entering retirement villages, and some are struggling with financial challenges. I'm working with leadership to sort all of this out so we can develop a plan of action that will create long-term solutions.
To be clear: This kind of financial situation isn't "normal" for the interim period. Most (almost all) of the churches I've served have been stable financially during the transition, and those with challenges have successfully addressed the issue. This kind of situation IS normal for long-term pastorates especially in the current anti-religion climate.
The Ruling Elders, the Personnel and Finance Committee, and I are working on this and we ask for your support. Keep us in your meditations and prayers as we discern what God would have us to.