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How do you know when it’s time to Leave your Church?

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Most people don’t stay at one place of employment their entire lives. If you work at a church, chances are you probably won’t work at that church the rest of your life. Most likely at some point you’re going to leave to go and start or work at another church.

There are all kinds of reasons why church staff leave the church they work at to go work another church. Some of those reasons are solid and make a lot of sense. Some of them as you could guess, not so much.

If you’re a church staff member and you’re trying to figure out if you should stay or if it’s time to go, here are a couple of principles you should keep in mind.

God’s Direction

I’ve said this many times before both in writing blog posts on staffing and personally 1-on-1 to church staff members. If you know God is calling you to something else, then that’s a great reason to leave a church. But you better be pretty sure that it was God you heard talking and not the pizza you had at 2:00am before you start waving around the, “it’s God will,” card.

You’re Asked to Leave

If you’re asked to leave your church staff job for whatever reason from downsizing, restructuring, poor fit, or poor performance you can be pretty sure that’s a good reason to leave a church.

Ongoing Conflict

It’s difficult to give your all to a church and be “all-in” when you don’t get along with the people you work with. Just because it’s a church doesn’t mean every personality will be able to work with every other personality. I’ve seen some staff stay too long at a church in an effort to “live at peace with all men,” thinking they’re ungodly if they can’t figure out how to work with everyone. It’s probably naïve to think you’ll be able to get along with everyone or work for anyone. It’s important to remember that relational and cultural chemistry matters.

Opportunity

Sometimes I’ve seen staff leave their current church because they’ve grown and they’re ready for a new challenge or greater responsibility, but their current church is unable to provide that challenge or opportunity.

Don’t Respect the Leadership

If you don’t respect the leader you’re serving under and you can’t, in good conscience, submit to their authority then it’s time to leave.

Don’t Agree with the Vision

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation. Someone (usually in a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th chair role) thinks that God has called them to speak for the Lord and help their poor Lead Pastor understand that it is time for the vision to change because they don’t agree with it. And they are just the person who has come down off of the mountain with the new blueprint for where the church should go next. Or on the other hand the vision is so unclear that people have a hard time understanding how to define success in their job, which leads to frustration, which leads to burnout. Either route you take you end up with a lot of frustration and an eventual job change.

The first two reasons (God’s direction and you’re asked to leave) are super clear and no brainer indicators that’s it’s time to go. The other four are not as easy to figure out. They can be indicators that it’s time to go or they can be excuses that you make to yourself that it’s time to go. You have to discern which it is.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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