It seemed like yesterday I had arrived at my first church in the Atlanta area. After four years it was coming to an end—I could still remember all of the hope and passion I had for the church when I first got there. I held tight to the memories of the experiences God had allowed me to have—it was because of those experiences I didn’t want to leave. I found myself at a loss for how to tell the people who’d been there for me when I arrived as an immature student pastor how much I appreciated them. These same people were there for me when my dad passed away. And just as they’d been there for me, I was also there for them—through thick and thin, as we say in the South.
When I got the call to go to the new church, I felt as if I were cheating on my current church. Many youth pastors have this same feeling when they start talking to another church. In any transition, our main goal as ministers should be to leave well, because we serve a savior who left us better off than he found us. There isn’t a perfect science to leaving a church, but after doing it three times now, I have come up with seven stops that will help a person leave well:
Pray about it.
I know it sounds elementary, but deciding to leave a church should be met with prayer. In fact, please don’t start talking to a church if you haven’t prayed about it first.
Make sure you have chemistry with the church you’re investigating.
If you couldn’t stand a three-hour car ride with them or you wouldn’t join the church if you weren’t getting paid to be there, you probably should pass the job over.
Enjoy the process.
Choosing your next church is going to be a process. In some cases it can take as long as three to six month. Be patient.
Ask meaningful questions.
This is very important when deciding to join a fellowship. These are the people you will be doing life together with, so asking questions is a must.
Involve a small circle of other people.
If you’re married, your husband or wife should be included in the process. It’s also essential to involve a confidential group of two or three. These people shouldn’t be a part of your current church.
If possible, ask to communicate with the last person who had the job.
If the church will allow, talking to the last person could be a good barometer of why the church is talking with you. Leave well. I cannot say this enough. Once God has spoken, leave with integrity. Take the high road, even if they ask you to leave.
Maina Mwaura loves to guide student leaders. He is the husband of Tiffiney and has a two year old daughter name Zyan. Maina, lives in the Atlanta area and is the mobilization pastor at West Ridge Church. Check out more info at MAINASPEAKS.COM
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.