August 20th, 2010

Looking back at AIPM–Middlesbrough Baptist

By: Chuck McComb

Reflections on American Interim Pastor Ministry (AIPM) at Middlesbrough Baptist Church, Cambridge Road (MBCCR) (Chuck and Pat McComb, April – September 2000)

These excerpts from reflections on AIPM at Middlesbrough Baptist Cambridge Road by a former MBCR minister are intended to help churches thinking through AIPM best transition from AIPM to a permanent (British) pastor and what the churches/AIPMs/(British) pastors need to be aware of/can do better in terms of preparation and follow-up.

These reflections were based on the observations of the follow-up minister’s thoughts and the perspective of a group of Deacons who served during the period of AIPM.

Spiritual health of the Church before AIPM
Prior to the period of AIPM at MBCCR the Church had enjoyed two long ministries. During the interregnum there was a risk of the Church losing momentum, in particular in terms of preaching ministry and mission. The need for consistent and strong leadership to be maintained was identified by the Deacons. The Church was actively seeking for a permanent (British) pastor during the time that Chuck and Pat McComb served, but AIPM ‘worked’ insofar as providing a degree of continuity, certainly in terms of preaching ministry and keeping the Church mission-focused, and so not losing ground in the absence of a permanent pastor. AIPM helped the Church move on from the stable ministry of the previous pastor, not least because of Chuck’s enthusiastic approach, and built the Church up ready for God’s appointed pastor to come in. The time-limited nature of the AIPM meant that the Church actively continued its search for a permanent pastor.

Spiritual health of the Church after AIPM
Chuck’s energetic leadership enabled a significant strengthening of the capabilities and giftings of the Fellowship, especially in terms of the leading of worship and corporate prayer. Teams, including representatives of all age groups, were put together to help identify social and spiritual needs within the Fellowship and plan for initiatives that sought to meet these. After AIPM the Church was strengthened, encouraged and more active than it had been before. It was also perhaps more than a little tired!

Possible disadvantages of AIPM
The short-term energy boost brought to the Church through AIPM set some high ideals in terms of Fellowship activity that would be hard for any incoming, permanent pastor to sustain in the long-term. A potential clash of cultures does exist, but because Chuck and Pat had lived in England some years previous to their serving here this was no problem in this case.

Advantages of AIPM
Benefits of AIPM include continuity in terms of preaching ministry, consistent leadership during a time of transition for the Church, members and friends of the Fellowship being encouraged to use their gifts and the Church being prepared in a special way for the incoming pastor.

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