by Mark Frost
One month ago, HOPE Network lost a beloved partner, Tim Woodroof, who passed away after a courageous battle with lupus. The Kingdom of God lost a brilliant strategist, a tireless worker, a fearless leader, and a passionate advocate. We want to take a moment in this newsletter to reflect on Tim’s impact and to honor his life and legacy.
At the dawn of the millennium, Tim published a groundbreaking book, A Church That Flies. In it, he challenged churches to release their grip on shopworn and ineffective forms of “doing church” so they could grasp anew God’s Spirit-empowered functions for the Kingdom. What he wrote was more than the musing of an ivory-tower mystic; rather, it was a compilation of practical principles that Tim sought to implement in his own life and work. In 2008, he left a successful ministry at one of our “flagship” churches (Otter Creek Church of Christ in Brentwood, TN) to become a consultant, guiding churches to implement the strategies about which he had written. Over the next few years, he painstakingly developed a process for shepherding churches through a period of honest self-examination and focused effort to discern God’s leading.
In 2012, with demand for his services far outstripping his considerable capacity for Kingdom labor, Tim began Interim Ministry Partners, sharing his voluminous knowledge and deep wisdom with three other ministers who could work in parallel with him. To date, thirteen others have at one time or another shared in this ministry to dozens of churches in transition.
In 2013, Tim saw the opportunity of joining forces with Hope Network, an organization in which he was already a consulting partner. He worked tirelessly and selflessly to merge IMP into Hope Network as a separate division, a merger that continues to be a blessing to both organizations.
Others will no doubt speak powerfully of Tim’s influence as a writer, teacher, preacher, counselor, and friend. We want to bear witness to his legacy among us in interim ministry. Following is a sampling of comments from Tim’s past and present partners in Interim Ministry Partners.
“Tim was a complex and brilliant man. IMP was his legacy project, and his vision and process for upgrading interim ministry will ripple through congregations for a long, long time. We were all blessed to share time and Jesus with Tim. He loved us, we loved him, and we can hear him now telling us to go out and do something good for the kingdom.” –Brent Isbell
“Tim’s gifts were many and impactful. Such a good man, creative, resourceful, visionary, and attentive to detail (which combined with vision is a very rare quality in any one person). While his writing ministry may have been his favorite, I think his best work expressed itself through Interim Ministry Partners. Here is where he marshalled all of his creative genius and administrative skills, leaned into a great need among the churches, and then wrote volumes of detailed work to fit nearly any congregation. With the help of trusted friends, his work moved throughout the nation and impacted countless individuals. Interim Ministry Partners gave Tim Woodroof full expression: a good, creative, resourceful, visionary man, with an uncanny attention to detail ~ all in service to the church and the God he loved.” –David Fleer
“When Tim was weighing the possibility of beginning IMP he wanted to talk with me. Get my counsel. After he described the plan, my “wise” response was: “Tim, while it makes perfectly good sense, I just don’t think it will be accepted by our folks.” What came to pass showed how anything-but-wise my counsel was and how prescient Tim was to see and address a need. (By the way, I later accepted a couple of assignments to help churches through an interim season as part of IMP. That it didn’t occur to him to hold my short-sightedness against me is another typical trait of Tim Woodroof.) God bless our memories of this good man. And God bless his ongoing vision to help churches through his publications and IMP!” –Rubel Shelly
“Tim was opinionated, but not harsh; brilliant, but not condescending; polished, but not perfect. In 2006, when I was at my absolute lowest and on the heels of ridiculously immature choices – the first phone I received was from Tim Woodroof. I praise God there are so many amazing memories to pull from: a trip to Greece with Tim – with his dad joining us, the joys of launching Interim Ministry Partners and being humbled again and again as God’s Holy Spirit worked powerfully through broken vessels to bring transformation to churches all over the United States. There are many things I do not know, but I know this one thing for sure – my life’s trajectory would have been far worse had Tim not been part of it. We will see you soon brother – made whole in every way. Between now and then, we will pay forward that which you poured at great cost into us.” –Greg Anderson
“Tim was a long-time friend and colleague. Our friendship deepened at a crucial time in my life, as I was considering a return to ministry after serving a nonprofit. That led to Tim’s invitation to join IMP and a friendship that turned into a partnership in a ministry that is having a significant and future-altering impact in congregations, and in our fellowship. Tim’s vision for a new and transformative way to lead churches through transition, his passion for the church and the kingdom, and his commitment to a thorough and spiritual process of discernment was unparalleled in our fellowship. Countless lives have been impacted by his vision. We are all better for what he has done and are diminished by his loss.” –Rob McRay
“My most significant time with Tim was at his home for an IMP training session in September 2019. He was not well, and another IMP partner, knowing how unwell Tim was, asked to lead our training in Tim’s place, but Tim would not be deterred. He led it and led it well. His commitment to our training was so obvious. His goals for us were so high, and especially important to him was that we would be agents of transformation for every church we served. I could not be more grateful!” –Rodney Plunket
“Besides his visionary development of IMP… besides Tim’s brilliant intellect and tenacious desire to see healthier churches and leaderships… besides his personal encouragement and affirmation of me as a minister, leader, and consultant… my thoughts have trended toward this: Tim wrote an excellent book on the Holy Spirit. And that is fitting… The Holy Spirit is referred to as a Counselor and a Comforter and an Empowering Force of God. Tim Woodroof was shaped by the Spirit of which he wrote. Tim served the kingdom as a Counselor, Comforter and Empowering Force of God! May God be praised!” –Doug Peters
“In 2012 after my wife died, I was asked to serve as an interim minister for a church in Petoskey, Michigan. I had no idea what an interim minister was supposed to do, so I called Tim. Not only was he willing to freely share his wisdom with me; he offered to take me on as one of his first partners. His competence, his passion, his respect for others, and his encouraging spirit were profound blessings at a crucial juncture in my life. I have seen dozens of churches blessed by the ministry that Tim had the foresight to pioneer.” –Mark Frost