Do You Know When to Go?


How do you know when to leave your current church?

While every situation is different, here are a few things to consider:

  • Y ou have accomplished your work: Yes, the work of those in family ministry is never finished, but you may feel your work, within your specific gift set, is complete. For example, you may be a “builder” or an “optimizer.”  You love to grow ministries from the ground or  keep family ministries strong, vibrant, and healthy. There is room for both types of family ministry pastors (and many others).

Pro Tip:   Take a hard look at yourself first. Do not label yourself a “builder” or “optimizer” if the truth is your maturity simply needs to develop within your current ministry setting.

  • Your voice is no longer heard in leadership: This does not mean you do not have a voice in ministry.  It simply means your influence in that particular church has likely ended. Staying or leaving in these situations are often tricky and take a great deal of discernment.

Pro Tip:  If you feel your voice is no longer heard in leadership, reach out to a trusted mentor for guidance. If you have a strong and safe relationship with your senior pastor, a conversation about your leadership voice can be beneficial.

  • You are in a toxic environment that is causing damage to self, family and calling to ministry:   Bad ministry environments, at no fault to self, do exist. If at all possible, you want to leave well and quickly.

Pro Tip:  Do you think you are in a toxic ministry environment? Reach out to a seasoned, trusted mentor and share your situation. They will help you with discernment and, if needed, networking with other ministry opportunities.

  • You are at an impasse with your leadership :   This happens, it did with Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15).  Leave on good terms; there is no reason to destroy the opposition. Submit to their leadership and begin your exodus with grace and class.

Pro Tip:  Avoid the temptation to “talk” and “gather” those supportive of your side of things. In the end, such action may make you feel better, but is gossip at its root. This will undoubtedly cause pain, division and unneeded tension. Steer clear of this.

What’s Next?

You have decided to leave, now what?

Take these steps to ensure a well-communicated transition.

  1. Inform your direct report as quickly as possible.
  2. Provide them with clear and direct communication.
  3. D eliver the communication in person if possible, but always included in a written document.
  4. Discuss the reason(s) for your leaving and your desired finishing date.
  5. If known, consider letting them know the ministry (or employment) you will be joining.
  6. Work through a transition plan for your future replacement (even if unknown) to ensure you end well.
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