Category Archives: Ministry

Hope Network and the Power of the Interim Season

You may or may not know that my blog is a part of Wineskins and our network of Christian authors. Each month we run ads in order to help us keep things up and running and improve the quality of our content and production.

This month we are running an ad from Hope Network. We only run ads with organizations we believe in and believe are doing substantive work for the kingdom. Hope Network is one of those organizations and we want you to know about them.

The following article is by Tim Woodroof of Interim Ministry Partners (a part of Hope Network) which helps churches make transitions between ministers. You probably saw the Hope Network ad on the right sidebar. I (Matt) encourage you to check out what they are doing. I have personally been blessed by their church consult work in the past. Here is more information on some of what they do!

By Tim Woodroof

You know the feeling of that moment.

You’re sitting in your usual seat. The worship period is just beginning. The elders move as a group to the pulpit. One of them steps forward with a paper in hand, and says, “We have an announcement to make.”

Uh oh! What’s happened? What awful thing are we about to hear?

Sometimes—often—that announcement has to do with your pulpit minister. A long-tenured, much-loved minister is retiring. A young, vibrant minister—for whom everyone sees a bright future—has accepted a pulpit in another state. There’s been an affair. Ailing parents necessitate a move. The minister—discouraged—will be seeking secular employment.

The reasons are varied. The results are the same. Our church is losing its pulpit minister. Our “normal” has just changed. Ahead yawns a season of transition. Like a lost tooth, we will all feel the gap, poke and prod at it, and wonder how (when!) we can find a replacement.

Nobody welcomes transition. Nobody enjoys the loss, uncertainty, stress, doubts and dangers of a transition season. Individually, or as churches, we don’t respond with fondness to change.

Our common response to seasons of transition, then, is to hold our noses and run like mad through the transition, determined above-all-else to get to a new “normal” as quickly as possible. Transition is not just inconvenient … it is intolerable. Transition is not simply stressful … it is toxic. Avoid transition! And, when it can’t be evaded, abbreviate it by every means possible! The longer the transition, the greater our anxiety. The longer the transition, the more vulnerable we feel.

Hope Network Ministries believes God works most powerfully among his people in times of transition. Transition is not an “illness” we experience between periods of normal health but a regular interluded in the rhythm of God’s people … a necessary and wholesome “breather” in the busyness of church life.

Consider Israel’s transition from Egypt to the Promised Land. The Exodus wasn’t comfortable. It wasn’t predictable or safe. It made Israel vulnerable to hunger, thirst, and war. There was plenty of grumbling and complaining along the way.

But look how God used that season to accomplish powerful things in the life of his people: new leadership, the formation of a nation, Sinai and the revelation of the Law, fresh reliance on God’s guidance and provision, a new home. The “interim” of the Exodus became the most formative and transformative period in all Israel’s long history. This season of transition resulted in new life.

Consider the Jerusalem church during the days of Saul’s persecution. The church was growing by leaps and bounds. The Spirit of God was present and alive and moving. The Apostles were preaching and training and moving from house-to-house among the believers.

And then Saul threw a grenade into the good things God was doing—or so it must have seemed to many in the Jerusalem Church. Everything changed overnight. Shock. Alarm. Fear. Flight. Luke tells us Christians fled the city and “all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1). They transitioned from peace to persecution … from mega-church to a small group (again) … from enjoying “the favor of all the people” to a hunted and haunted faction.

In Acts, the transition lasted only a few verses. But, in real time, months passed before Christians began to trickle back to the city and resume their normal lives. But, once again, God used this period of transition to accomplish powerful things in the life of his people. Some of the Christians who were scattered during Saul’s persecution traveled to Gentile territory and “began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus” (Acts 11: 20). Peter had his vision and visited the home of Cornelius (Acts 10). Barnabas began his gospel work among Gentiles in Antioch (Acts 11:22ff).

God used transition to drive the gospel beyond Jerusalem and the Jews to a waiting Gentile world. Because of this transition—in spite of its pain and threat and disruption—the world changed and God’s purposes prevailed.

Hope Network Ministries believes God still does his greatest work among his people in seasons of transition. One of those transitions involves the loss of a minister. Between the last minister and the next, in that uncomfortable “interim,” God can accomplish powerful things in our churches.

The “Interim Ministry” division of Hope Network focuses on this time of transition in the local congregation. We have experience leading scores of churches through such change. We have tools and processes to help churches address the interim season in effective ways. We can help your church walk through the interim to a new and vibrant future.

Anxiety is Far Too Common in Ministry. Here is Why and What Can be Done About it

Over half of ministers report suffering from significant anxiety as a result of their ministry. Churches are anxious places. They are anxious places because we are supposed to get everything right and to do something not how it is always done or said creates uncomfortable questions and anxiety that is then, often, transferred to leadershipContinue Reading

We are Approaching a Critical Moment in Churches of Christ

There is a confluence of factors steamrolling toward us that I think we are largely asleep to in Churches of Christ. What happens next is anyone’s guess but I think we can plan and adjust in a way that makes sense. What are those factors and what kind of change is it leading toward? UpcomingContinue Reading

What Keeps You Going?

My answer to this question has been developing and changing my whole life. When I was a kid, the excitement of learning kept me going. I was and still am to a large degree inquisitive. There was always more to learn and that drove me to seek out answers to all kinds of questions. InContinue Reading

The ISTJ Minister – Assessing How Our Personality Affects Our Ministry

I love the Myers-Briggs type inventory. It seems like the Enneagram is all the rage these days but I still haven’t moved on from the good ole trusty MBTI. This is partly because of the insights it brings out and it is also due to the fact that it was developed at one of myContinue Reading

“Those Were the Days” – What Does the Future Hold for Churches of Christ?

Nostalgia is the first step in church life toward congregational death. “Nostalgia is an exile mentality. Fulfillment is contingent on the ‘once upon a time’ remembrances of yesterday. ‘I remember when’ stories become commonplace in organizations during nostalgic days. The golden days are remembered fondly. From an organizational perspective, nostalgia signals the beginning of aContinue Reading

Do What You Can…Some is Better Than None

So many things go undone because we don’t do what we can. When we think we can’t or just don’t want to take the whole thing on by ourselves we freeze up and don’t do the little bit we actually can do. A bunch of little “tries” add up to a much greater sum thanContinue Reading

Crossing i’s and dotting t’s

Meticulous but misdirected. This happens far too often in leadership. We get myopically focused on the wrong things and what appears to be a concern for doing it right misses the point entirely. If you are determined to dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s you better make sure you aren’t getting itContinue Reading

Identify The Hats Only You Can Wear

There are too many distractions in life. It is so easy to shift our time and energy to things that we don’t need to be engaged in. Often the things that get neglected are the things that only we can do. One of the things I ask myself from time to time when considering tacklingContinue Reading

Has Studying Replaced Doing? Our Evangelism Problem

I have a shelf full of books on evangelism but that doesn’t make me evangelistic. We have a problem if we have read more books on evangelism than the number of people we have studied with. I am convinced that you don’t have to be an expert or know the latest (fill in the blank)Continue Reading


Follow this blog

Email address