How Much Do You Pay an Interim?

In each discussion with a congregation considering inviting me to work with them, we get to the question, “How much do you pay an interim?” My consistent response for nine years, “Pay me what you paid your last preacher.”

Five reasons I think this is a good and fair request:

  1. You need an interim who’s as good at his work as your last preacher was at his.
  2. Paying your interim the salary you paid your last preacher is fair for small, medium, and large congregations.
  3. You’ll pay your next preacher as much, or more than you paid your last preacher. I’ll help you hold the place in the budget for him.
  4. A worker is worthy of his pay. If an interim preacher has spent his life learning, applying, and teaching the principles of transition, his knowledge and wisdom are worth that of any other consultant of comparable ability.
  5. People show respect, value, and credibility by compensation. Not every church has followed this principle, and I agreed to work with them. Observation: when a church did significantly less, it was also expressed in their attitude toward me. They expressed that by what they paid me and by the way they treated me while I was there. I just wasn’t that valuable. Non-verbal communication is powerful. Although I was paid well and lived comfortably, their response to that suggestion was the first sign of how I’d be regarded by them. I’ll ponder this in the future.

It’s expensive to be an interim.

We live where we work. We’ve lived in two houses owned by churches for use by their preacher. We’ve rented three apartments. We’re now renting a house close to Northside where we’re woking, and paying utilities.

We’re maintaining our house in Nashville. We pay utilities, property taxes, insurance, and mowing. We don’t move to a new location. We live there, bringing our clothes, computers, and an interim bed. Brethren loan us furniture while we’re working in a location. They pick it up when we leave. What isn’t loaned, Gail buys at a thrift store. This helps the most unpleasant part of our interim ministry, relocating every eighteen months.

God has been good and provided for our every need and most of our wants. I appreciate the support of brethren to permit the enjoyable work we’ve been doing for nine years.

What are your thoughts about compensation for interim preachers?
Please comment below:

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Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

6 Responses to “How Much Do You Pay an Interim?

  • Jay Burgess
    8 years ago

    One of the hardest and most important things elders can do is look for a new minister. It takes time, effort and prayer for the elders to find the next preacher. The last thing they need to worry about is the interim standing in the pulpit today.
    I believe the interim has a more difficult job than the preacher. One of his main jobs is to prepare the congregation for the next full time minister. He has to research why there’s been a change. Does the congregation need a “revival?” Did they dismiss their former preacher? The interim has to know what the congregation needs right now, and in the near future as they look for their next preacher.
    If the elders have selected the right interim, he will be a great part of the interview process for the potential new preacher.
    These are just a very few points to say the interim needs to be paid at least what they paid their previous preacher. He is not a substitute teacher. He is more of a consultant who can also preach. In business, I always pay a consultant more than I pay the manager whose department or store I am trying to improve.

    • Jay, You have given us more things to consider. I appreciate your insight and understanding.

  • Willie Hamblen
    8 years ago

    Very well stated and point is on target rationally as well as pragmatically. When an interim is introduced as a “fill-in”, he will likely be under-valued and treated as a dispensible item. There is a sense (in many cases) in which the interim’ role and contribution may be more important in the life of the church than was that of the previous preacher…or the next! The servant who knows how to fill that role is due honor, respect, and compensation.

  • Mike Baker
    8 years ago

    Thank you Jerrie for another great article on this important work. More and more congregations should consider an interim to help prepare the church to be healthy for the next minister.

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      8 years ago

      You are welcome. I am encouraged by the number of people considering these principles.