I was describing my hopes and dreams for Zion's future to an older colleague the other day when he interrupted. "Have you ever thought about interim ministry?" Every day, actually. I think more plain ol' pastors should view what they do as interim ministry.
I don't have anything against the long pastorate - and maybe I'll be called to one someday - but most of my contemporaries are enjoying leadership a few chapters at a time. They are nimble and creative and effecting change quickly. They are acutely aware of the warp speed at which Being Church is changing. We don't make 5-10 year plans anymore - not with our councils and not with our own calls.
Some of us are on a shoestring and a prayer.
Some churches pay their pastors below synod guidelines.
Some are accepting part-time calls even though they long to work full time.
Some churches are living month to month, giving their pastors just weeks or months notice when their position will be cut.
And so we make 1-3 year plans. We are brutally honest with call committees and congregations and committees and leaders. We preach sermons without assuming the text will come around the lectionary cycle again while we're still in the same call. We think about sustainability and lay leadership all the time - because what's the point of pastor-centered transformation when we're serving year to year?
I met with five colleagues last week who were all acutely aware of the chapter at hand. There are beautiful, thriving things. There are exciting things. There are stressful things. There are intimidating things. There are both sprint and marathon things. There are reasons we long to stay for years and reasons we imagine moving on sooner.
Our sanctuary has 27 pews today, but 20 will be unscrewed and loaded onto a semi trailer this Saturday afternoon. There will be a few funny looking weeks while we hodge podge chairs, rip up carpet, and start fresh with pew chairs. We will bless the mess. Some will cry for these perfectly good benches and some will clap with glee when the freshness of September comes. Most of us will cry and clap, for this is what it means to be the church.
We are living and serving in the hinge moment, in between pews and chairs, in between tears and joy, in between Sunday and Saturday. And I can't think of anything better.