A Time of Transition
For the last thirteen months I have preached over forty times at Normandale Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX as they searched for their next lead pastor. I would consider this my first interim pastorate, even though I mainly just preached week by week. I did a small amount of counseling and attended staff meeting on a few occasions, but by far my main responsibility was Sunday morning preaching of the Word. I had never done an interim before so this was an interesting experience and I want to share a few of my thoughts.
- First of all it was a great joy getting to know the wonderful people in the family called Normandale Baptist Church. They are a loving church and it was a joy serving alongside of them during this season.
- I will not deny that I am going to greatly miss preaching consistently in the same church. There are SO MANY advantages to preaching week by week. In the time at Normandale I have had the joy of preaching through the books of Galatians and Malachi, and a series on the Sermon on the Mount.
- Renewed sermon preparation has been one of the most beneficial parts of serving in an interim capacity. Since my transition from the pastorate to seminary professor I have not been as consistent in my NEW sermon preparation time. During the last year I have been able to carve out consistent blocks of time for new sermon prep along with the continued refinement of my sermons on passages that I have already preached. For this I am extremely grateful.
- I believe seeing a church walk through this process from the vantage point of an interim has helped me better understand the church’s perspective when she is in search of a shepherd. The experience with Normandale has granted me improved insight as a minister and a professor.
- There are a couple things about doing an interim that are not negative, but are just different. First, during the entire process I felt a sense of displacement. I have grown to deeply care about the people of Normandale and they have been incredibly gracious and encouraging the entire time. The difference is they knew and I knew that this was a temporary arrangement. It felt different than any assignment I had previously done in ministry. I was away from my home church, but not completely engaged with Normandale. I missed the fellowship on a level that only a body you are committed to long term can provide. I am more convinced than ever about the value of meaningful church membership.
- I care more deeply about Normandale and her future than most any other church I know. Other than places where I have served and Cana Baptist Church where my family and I are members, there are very few churches that I will pray for as diligently as Normandale Baptist Church going forward. It is a different kind of feeling than I have experienced before, but it certainly is one of genuine concern and love for the church known as Normandale.
I have three more Sundays before the new lead pastor begins his service at Normandale on May 17th. I will finish my series on Malachi for two of those and then I will give a charge to the church on how to bless their pastor from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28. I am grateful for the opportunity to have served the Lord and Normandale during this season. I pray God’s richest blessings on this wonderful body of believers!