In last month’s newsletter I explained in some detail what interim ministers do. If you haven’t read it, I hope you’ll look at now. It’s on our website.
An interim obviously is an in-between time. In between the time when a former pastor leaves and a new pastor is called. Interim time can be much more important than just marking time. It can be one of the most valuable periods in a church’s history.
There are three questions a church must deal with in its interim time. “Where have we been?” “Where are we going?” “What skills and gifts should we seek in our next pastor so that we can get where we want to go?”
There’s an old saying you may have heard, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” That’s why we should be deliberate and thoughtful in laying out FPC’s road map for the future.
We have already begun the process of “Where have we been?” and “Where are we going?” Over the past few months I have met with many of you in home desserts. We’ve had over 50 people attend. When the summer is over we will try to hold a few more desserts to offer those who were away this summer a chance to weigh in on these two questions.
So far here’s what I’ve learned. Most of all you value the sense of community you find at FPC. I’ve learned that if someone in the church has the flu, the word spreads in a few hours. You care for one another in palpable ways.
You value our traditional worship style. You don’t want screens or a rock band up front. You like the informality of the service, yet value the dignity of Reformed liturgy. (And you are really good listeners to my sermons. Thank you!)
You really love the beauty of our historic sanctuary, one of the 12 oldest structures in all of Phoenix. So many of you (and our guests) say, “It reminds me of the little church I attended back in the mid-west. And let me just say that we have not yet leveraged the historicity of our sanctuary to become more widely known in our area. More on this down the road.
You worry about our church getting older. When I asked one member if she had a magic wand and could change the church, what would she do? She said, “I would make us all a lot younger.” This is the number one concern I heard in the desserts. We have to find a way to grow, to attract new members.
You worry about finances. The church has been under financial stress for some years now. Last year the Session had to dip into the manse fund ($17,000) to balance the budget. I am 2/3 time with 2/3 salary of the former pastor. Perhaps the biggest question we have to deal with is this: “Can we afford a full-time permanent pastor? Generally you get what you pay for in this world. Can we find a way, with the resources available to us to call a full-time pastor, full of spit and vinegar! A pastor who can lead the congregation to a day of growth and renewal. I have some ideas on this, too! More to follow.
That’s enough for now. I’ll follow some of these thoughts up in future columns.
Let me close by saying a great big thanks for the warm and wonderful welcome you have extended to me. I love being here. I love my ministry with and among you.