How to Leave a Ministry the right way

This is a blog post that was generated by an article that I read on church leaders. I have left one ministry and joined another. I learned more during the transition that I have ever learned before. God taught me so much about life and ministry during this growing time.

Leaving a position can be very hard and difficult. Most of the time student pastors leave because they struggle connecting with the senior pastor, the culture of the church, or a philosophical difference. These reasons for leaving are valid, but also carry a great deal of baggage with them as well. For instance, if you are leaving because of a difference between you and the senior pastor, that is tough to explain to people in an honest fashion without causing division within the church.

  1. Encourage change in your student ministry– I try to keep change in front of my students and leaders all of the time. I try to change little things here and there to make sure that they are used to change. If you do things the exact same way every single time, when you leave, it will be difficult for a new person (who is not you) to come into the picture and make things work. He will have different ideas, thoughts, and vision, and the people should support him.
  2. Allow your leaders to lead– You are still the student pastor, but if you can have them lead more often while you are still on staff, it will help a new guy coming in! Also, if there is a time where they are without a student pastor, the leaders can handle the ministry if they have been trained to lead while you were there.
  3. Love your students & speak about this to them– When you leave a position, you need to address your students! Do not address all of the issues if there are bad issues involved, but address them. Show them that you love them and their families. By the way, invite their families to join in this time when you address them. They need to know that you take your relationship with them very seriously! Do not be afraid to show emotion or value on your relationship with them, because they and their families need to see this. Also, explain the importance of supporting the next guy who comes in!
  4. Leave Quietly– This is very tough to do if there are problems with why you are leaving, but this is the right and respectable thing to do!  I believe this more now than when I was actually leaving my first position. You do not have to explain to every person who asks the exact reason why you left especially if it is a disagreement with leadership! For some reason, we tend to feel we must voice why we left to everyone, and this sometimes can cause discord among the community of believers, and this SHOULD be the last thing you desire.
  5. Move on– Go to the new ministry that God has for you and go “ALL IN” there! Do not try to undermine the new student pastor by pastoring your students. I recommend leaving the area, but if God has other plans and keeps you in the area, stay there, and do His will, but be careful with trying to pastor the students when there is another guy there. Do not completely cut off relationships, but keep that relationship strong and healthy!

2 thoughts on “How to Leave a Ministry the right way

  1. I appreciate your article. While I am not in ministry yet (still praying, looking, and hoping for an interview), my family and I are about to switch churches from a church that we have been extremely active in for a number of years. Much of what you have written about the reasons for change apply to our situation. It is a very delicate process and one that requires much prayer. We recently had a church split and many individuals in the church mentioned how much it was like a divorce. I’m beginning to understand what they mean.

    Thank you for your article. I actually wrote an article last week about your blog and the great resources you provide.

    1. Thanks Jonathan! I have said a special prayer for your present and future ministry! Please feel free to share my post with anyone. If you ever need anything, please let me know.

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