I recently took a new ministry position. As I made the decision to change ministries, I went back and forth since I would be leaving a place and people that I love! Note: If you are leaving a ministry under bad terms, read this article but know that not all of this will pertain to you—this is for those who are leaving a ministry when things are going well. Leaving my church was by far the most difficult decision that I have had to make in ministry. It was tough. In some ways, it was a lose-lose situation. I was told that there was no good way to leave—it was going to be rough regardless. I agree to a certain extent, but I believe there are good ways to leave, as well. I want to share a few with you today.
1. Leave quietly
Look, you will have things about your church that you disagree with. You will have certain things that you would do differently. I get that, but if you want to leave well, keep them to yourself. As you’re leaving, it would be easy to throw a few of those dislikes into your conversations but I would not recommend this. Leave quietly and don’t share what you disliked about the church with anyone that is connected to your congregation. This is the best way of handling things. I have never heard anyone wishing that they had told more of what they disagreed with as they left, but I have heard many say that they told too much.
2. Leave rightly
The reason you should be leaving is because God has led you somewhere else. Make this the focal point. Jesus and the furtherance of the Gospel should be the reason you are moving on. Make Jesus and what He wants to do—in you and through you—the center of the conversation.
3. Get together with people before you leave
Before I left, I went to lunch, dinner, golf, etc. with some of the teens and families that asked for one last time together. You will get that “Let’s get together before you leave” comment a lot. Make it happen and be the instigator of the hang out. It means a lot to people. I know you are busy moving, but remember the lasting impact of this. Do not go into isolation mode.
4. Shower the people with appreciation and love
This is a no brainer, but the phrases “Thank you” and “I love you” should be regulars out of your mouth as you leave.
5. Leave your future home and time open
Since I moved, I have been blessed to get together with two different families who were passing through my new town. I made it a point to get together with them and hope to have this same mindset in years to come. You have to remember the impact you have made in their lives. Just because you are leaving doesn’t mean your contact with them must stop there. Keep the relationship going the best you can.
Bottom line—leave well!