Spring Garden is in an “interim” season that could also be called a time of “transition”, “discernment”, “learning”, “waiting”, and “anticipating”; it’s all about preparing for the next thing God has in store for us as we journey with Him. During this season, the leadership of Spring Garden has called Greg Kay and Sam Lee to be Co-Lead Pastors together in our interim staffing configuration. We’re seeing this interim period as a time to learn, discern, and consider hopefully whether the staffing model might be what sustains and nourishes Spring Garden for the longer term, beyond the interim period.
1. What does it mean to be in an “interim” time?
When a congregationally-governed church such as SGC has its Lead Pastor retire or leave, typically the church enters an “interim” period, in which it transitions from the prior season towards a new season. The word “interim” is not meant to imply that it’s just an in-between or less-important season – it simply means that it is a shorter, transitional season between two longer seasons. It could well be called a “transitional” time, or “preparing” time. Often, in an interim period, God shapes the church in specific ways in order to prepare us for what is yet to come. SGC entered its interim period when Gene Tempelmeyer retired in early March.
2. When will we hire a Lead Pastor?
Sometimes when a church goes into an interim period it assumes that the next season will have the same staff configuration as the past season, so when a Lead Pastor leaves, during the interim period the congregation initiates a process to search for and hire a new Lead Pastor. While they’re doing that, they hire an Interim Lead Pastor to take care of things until the new permanent pastor is hired.
That’s not what we’ve done. Over the past year the SGC leadership has been aware of Gene’s retirement, and have discussed and prayed and thought about how to move into the interim period and then into a new season of ministry. As we considered the interim period, what emerged from these discussions was a new staffing configuration, with two Co-Lead Pastors instead of one Lead Pastor. This is how we are functioning now, on an experimental basis, with Greg Kay and Sam Lee as Co-Leads. We have also hired Lily Cheng as Interim Community and Missions Pastor for this period of transition. A visual schematic of the model is on our website, here: https://bit.ly/2VQHYW1 .
3. Will the staffing configuration for the interim period be our new permanent staffing configuration?
We don’t know that yet for certain, though we are hopeful. We are discerning. When we announced the staff configuration for the interim period, we also said that we are in a time of discernment and learning. Specifically, we are discerning whether this staffing model might be what sustains and nourishes Spring Garden for the longer term, beyond the interim period.
4. How will we know how well this model is working?
The IMC is working with criteria for monitoring and evaluating various aspects of the model and the health of the church during this period, using tools such as regular reports and evaluations within the IMC, surveys and the upcoming Feedback Cafe. We conducted a “baseline” survey in April to assess the level of health of various factors that are important to a congregation’s functioning, in which respondents were asked to consider the past year at SGC as they assessed. This will be repeated in late September, with a focus on the same factors during the interim period, in order to see if the interim period has had significant impact on our healthy functioning.
5. How long will the interim period last?
The current plan is to continue this time of discernment through to October, at which point we hope that, collectively, we have a sense of God’s leading for our next season.
6. Who will make the decision about the staffing model for the longer-term?
The SGC congregation will make this decision, at a congregational business meeting, signified by a vote. It’s normal practice in congregationally-governed churches that decisions on interim staff are made by the church’s leadership, but that decisions about permanent staff are made by the congregation. That’s what we’re planning.
7. Do I need to be worried about SGC changing dramatically or moving in very different directions?
No. Spring Garden as a church is not centred around the personality of our Pastors, and so it is our expectation that during this time of transition and beyond, Spring Garden as a community will continue to journey forward together with our values, ethos, and core faith and mission.
8. If we decide not to pursue this model for the longer-term, what will happen?
We will be grateful that God has been leading us and will continue to do so. The SGC leadership will make plans to ensure there is effective staff leadership as the interim period continues and moves into a new phase. We will seek input from one another as to next steps in our collective discernment process.
9. Who is making decisions now, for the interim period?
The same as before: pastors and volunteer ministry leaders continue to make ministry decisions under the leadership of the Co-Lead Pastors with oversight and monitoring by the Deacons and Elders. Deacons and Elders continue to function as always.
The Interim Management Committee was established by the Deacons to manage and monitor the interim period, and is responsible to SGC’s leadership; the IMC will cease to exist once the interim period is over.
10.How can I give feedback?
You can contact an IMC member, or any member of SGC’s leadership (Deacons, Elders, Pastors) for a phone, email, or in-person conversation, or chat with them when you cross paths on a Sunday morning. You can come to the May 26th Feedback Café.
Sam Chaise, Cheryl Chapman, Lesley Daniels, Shannon Loewen, Greg Kay, Sam Lee