Leaving a church is a tough decision. Youâ€™ve already weighed, deliberated, and debated the decision for months (or perhaps very briefly and acted impulsively) and the transition plan is quickly coming together. You want to leave wellâ€¦but how do you do that? Itâ€™s challenging even under the best circumstances. And even if youâ€™re leaving under tension, thereâ€™s no reason to let students, volunteers, and friends get caught in the crossfire of an ugly departure. Here are a few ways we think you can leave well no matter the situation.
Announce it far and wide.
People need to hear it from youâ€”so make sure when you go public you make the reach as far as possible. Not to add to the drama but to make sure that people hear it from an official channel instead of through the prayer chain, errrâ€¦.grapevine. If you talk about it in church on Sunday, by Monday morning it should be on Facebook and the church Web site just so it stops confusion and slows down rumors.
Keep the transition short but sweet.
Once you know, and your leadership knows, shorter is usually better. Although we love to romanticize the idea of the handoff and peaceful transition of power, an abbreviated timeline is usually the best route. Once you announce things youâ€™ll be perceived as â€œhalfway inâ€ and a lame duck, so a graceful exit is preferred. By the way, has anybody ever actually seen a â€œlame duckâ€? Just wonderinâ€™.
We arenâ€™t suggesting you hide the truth, but we are begging you to protect the fragile unity of Godâ€™s church. Donâ€™t dare to think your exit is a time to grandstand for change and call for resignations. Leave in the spirit of unity and youâ€™ll never regret it. Not everybody deserves or needs to know the â€œwhole story.â€
Youâ€™ve made the transition plan public, quick, and abundantly clearâ€”now stick to it! Resist the urge to babysit the students. Fight the arrogant belief that no one will care about them when youâ€™re goneâ€”God loves them far more than you do and will watch over his children. Besides, you always said you were working yourself out of a job, so hereâ€™s your chance to see how you did. Donâ€™t meddle; it isnâ€™t your place anymore. Resist the urge to ask friends and former students how the â€œnew guy/girlâ€ is doing. Donâ€™t let yourself become critical of changes he or she begins to make in your absence.
Pray for the church.
The church will go on without you. In fact, it may even thrive once youâ€™re gone. Oftentimes staff transition allows the leadership of the church to be more focused in their vision and retool any errant plans to accomplish that vision. And while it may hurt when something you built from the ground up gets unceremoniously axed, pray that God will further his Kingdom while your Empire crumbles. Besides, if you really leave like we suggested above you wonâ€™t know they changed things!
This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter.Â Subscribe to SYM Today right here.