General Ministry
Josh Griffin

The voices leading youth ministry have said for a long time that when it is time to go … leave well. To be honest, I think I’ve even said it in the past. I’m not sure it is possible. Let me explain.

There is no such thing as leaving well. I don’t think it is possible! But you can leave better. Leaving well implies that it is possible to finish perfectly and that every relationship will be amiable or better when you go. Not true … but here’s a few ways to leave without adding to the pain of transition:

Protect the pastor

Don’t cause division in the church – you will only hurt God’s body and leave students and volunteers hurt in the crossfire of departure. Know that God will use that church for His glory, even if you are no longer a part of the leadership. You can’t leave perfectly, but you can minimize damage by controlling your tongue (and ears for that matter).

Sever ties
People ask me all of the time if they should maintain relationships with students and leaders from the past. I say no. There might be a few lifelong friends you stay in contact with, but be careful that your friendship doesn’t deteriorate into dissing the church. It is best to help students transition to the new leader of the youth ministry, even if it hurts more to say goodbye and walk away.

Leave better
Take a long hard look at yourself. Don’t jump right into your next position. Take some time to get alone and debrief with your spouse or mentor and get alone with God. Leaving is tough on a church, I’d say it is also tough on you, too. Leaving better means choosing not to divide the church, to walk away … and to work on what God reveals to you in the process.

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It is impossible to leave without hurting someone. Even if you leave in ideal conditions people will be hurt to lose you as part of the church. Leaving is messy. Leaving isn’t easy. You can’t leave well … but you can leave better.


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  • […] There’s no such thing as leaving well. […]

  • Peter says:


    While I think you can leave well, I do understand the point you are making. One suggestion I would add is that you prepare your students for the next leader. When I left Youth Ministry 16 years ago I told my students that yes things would be different but that’s ok. I also told them I expected them to give the new YP the same respect they did me and let that person earn the right to be heard.

    Leaving that group of kids almost killed me for sure. Leaving is never easy but like you said you can make it easier.

  • Josh says:

    @peter solid word, man. Appreciate the add! JG

  • […] week Josh Griffin blogged about how there is no such thing as leaving well.  Your heart should ache after leaving a place […]

  • Wade Hodges says:

    Josh–I appreciate this post. You’re right, leaving hurts. When people get hurt they usually lash out and hurt someone else. I remember when I announced I was leaving my first church, I was surprised that people I had been close to started distancing themselves from me. Some said or did a few things that hurt me. Now I see that they were hurting to and didn’t know how to manage their pain.

    It is so easy to let leaving become a mutual exchange of wounds. Leaving better means we opt out of that cycle.

    Great stuff!

  • Josh Griffin says:

    Grear thoughts, Wade. Was just talking with my wife yesterday morning … You almost have to be good at leaving/letting go and make sure your heart is strong and healthy as you walk through thi process. Thanks for the comment! JG

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