FAQs about Intentional Interim Ministry

What is the Interim Ministry Association?
The IMA-ELCA is primarily an organization of ELCA Intentional Interim Pastors — those pastors who have received specialized training in interim ministry. However, IMA-ELCA also exists to support all interim pastors, whether they have specialized training or not

What is the Interim Ministry?
The interim ministry provides pastoral coverage to congregations that are temporary without a pastor.

What is Intentional Interim Ministry?
Intentional Interim Ministry sees the interim period as a positive time for a congregation. It is a time of challenge and opportunity. An Intentional Interim Pastor uses the knowledge gained from several decades of research to guide a congregation through this difficult but very important time. Intentional Interim Pastors normally have gone through specialized training to gain this knowledge about the Interim Period.

What kind of specialized training is available for Intentional Interim Pastors?
An example is the specialized training provided by the Lutheran Transitional Ministry Association (LuTMA). The LuTMA Basic Education course consists of two weeks of intensive training in a classroom setting, in addition to other practical work in a ministry setting. To learn more, go to www.lutma.org.

How many ELCA Interim Pastors have received the specialized training?
There are about 1200 ELCA pastors who have completed part or all of the interim training (out of 11,000 active and 7,000 retired ELCA pastors). The vast majority of pastors who serve as Interim Pastors in the ELCA have not received specialized training.

Where did the term “Intentional Interim Pastor” come from?
Interim Ministry has probably existed as long as an ordained pastoral ministry has existed, but Intentional Interim Ministry is relatively new. It developed out of research by the Alban Institute in the 1970s and 1980s, which showed that the interim period in the life of a congregation was exceptionally important. With the departure of its pastor, the congregation had the opportunity to define itself, or re-define itself, and examine its goals. However, this opportunity was not being pursued in most cases. A congregation needed leadership during this period from a pastor who was fully knowledgeable about the transition process. This led to the concept of Intentional Interim Ministry.

What do Intentional Interim Pastors learn in this specialized training?
Pastors learn the “Five Developmental Tasks” of Interim Ministry. These five tasks are accepted by practitioners of interim ministry in all protestant denominations.

  • Coming to Terms with its History
  • Enabling Leadership Changes
  • Developing a Vision for the Future
  • Renewing Synod Linkages
  • Commitment to New Directions in Ministry

How can I learn more?
The IMA-ELCA is always looking for ways to improve the support we provide to all interim pastors. If you have any questions or comments, or any suggestions to improve our support of the interim ministry, please free to contact us. The Interim Ministry Association-ELCA relates to the ELCA through the Vocation and Education Department of the ELCA. Please contact us at LutheranTMA@gmail.com if you have other questions.

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