I didn’t know I was supposed to do that.” “You said you were going to do it.” “You agreed to pay me ninety days after we announced I was leaving.” “We don’t remember that.” “Check your notes.” “It’s not in our minutes.” “Some said they don’t like the length of your sermons; a lot of people are upset.” “Who are they?” “We can’t tell you. That information is confidential.”
How do you settle these disagreements?
You don’t. If no one made an effort and took the time to write agreements, make copies for all parties, and keep them safe for future reference, you won’t solve these disputes to everyone’s satisfaction.
The only person who doesn’t need written agreements is the person who’ll never die and who’ll never forget anything. If he isn’t writing his agreements, he needs to be dealing with people who’ll never die and will never forget anything.
It took me ten years and much pain to learn to make agreements of expectations and record those in a job description-contract.The only person not needing written agreements is the person who'll never die and who'll never forget anything. Click To Tweet
Before writing a job description-contract, I like to have several hours of getting to know each other. I want to hear why the church wants an interim preacher. What are their expectations? What is their understanding of what I’ll do and how long I’ll be there? What is the difference in an interim minister and fill-in preaching? What is our understanding of transition? Who will be involved in it? How much does each person want to grow or do we just want to get everyone else straightened out? What are tasks and groups that need to be involved in the transition process? How much interaction will there be between the elders and interim preacher?
The contract-job description is an official statement of understandings we have reached during our discussions.
Items in Job Description-Contract
- Job description.
* Staff meetings.
* Organizing transition projects and people.
- Relationship with elders and staff.
* Criticism guidelines.
* Salary, other benefits.
* Time away from the congregation.
* Study at home and building.
* Length of work together.
* 90-day notice of termination.
* Clear no consideration of taking the position as the next full-time preacher.
Two critical agreements:
- “Any criticism of Jerrie Barber will be directed to Jerrie Barber, and it will be welcomed. Jerrie Barber does not accept anonymous criticism.” A principle I’ll emphasize is delivering mail to the correct person. Matthew 18:15–17 applies to preachers as well as other Christians. I don’t respond to, “A lot of people are upset…some people said.” I look forward to visiting with each person individually. I appreciate criticism. It helps me grow. I don’t accept second-hand criticism.
- “It is understood that under no circumstances will Jerrie W. Barber consider or be considered as the next full-time preacher for this congregation.” This is one thing distinguishing interim ministry from fill-in preaching. I’m not here to see if we like each other and to determine if I want to be the next preacher here. I’m not here to take brother Last Preacher’s place. I’m here to help the church make a good transition and to make it easier on the next preacher.
I plan to discuss compensation in the next post.
Here’s a copy of my present contract: interim minister contract .