Suggestions for Resigning from a Church or Ministry

by Jared Moore on July 4, 2011 · 14 comments

This article was originally posted at my site. Only some of my articles are posted on SBC Voices. If you would like access to all of my articles, you can follow my feed here. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

1. Don’t try to teach your congregation in two minutes what you couldn’t teach them in several years.

2. Don’t try to fix your congregation’s problems in two minutes when you couldn’t fix their problems in several years.

3. Don’t pull the “God told me to leave” card as to why you’re leaving, unless God miraculously spoke to you.

4. Don’t call out certain people, groups, committees, or staff as reasons why you’re leaving.

5. Don’t do anything that will cause the church problems in the future.

6. Don’t do anything that will cause problems for the present staff or leadership.

7. Don’t do anything that will cause problems for the future pastor(s) or leadership.

8. Don’t use this time as a time for revenge against those that did not support you.

9. Do encourage the church concerning their future leader(s), God’s grace, the supremacy of Christ, and the sufficiency of His Word.

10. Do trust your congregation to God the Holy Spirit’s active work in them. They will be perfectly fine without you.

This article was originally posted at my site. Only some of my articles are posted on SBC Voices. If you would like access to all of my articles, you can follow my feed here. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

1 Bob Cleveland July 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Well spoken. You’ve called on pastors in this situation to look first at their own inability, which I don’t hear a lot of.

I have yet to see someone simply instructed by God to leave. My take is He tells them a place they should go TO, not one they should flee FROM.

2 Dan Barnes July 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm

I would add “don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want the next church to hear you said”. Things have a way of following you.

3 John Wylie July 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Thanks for the article Jared. I would like to ask this question from everyone who has pastored, When do you know it’s time to leave?

4 Mike Bergman July 4, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I would like to ask this question from everyone who has pastored, When do you know it’s time to leave?

That ain’t easy to figure out.

I left one church after eight months. It had been a nightmare for seven of those months. I prayed over and over about whether I needed to say or leave in the midst of everything. Part of me wanted to and part of me wanted to stay and work through all the issues (many of which came from carry over issues from the previous pastor–who had walked out 3 months before I got there).

Then one day a deacon and another man came into my office and told me, “You can resign and have X amount of pay, or you can be fired and have nothing.” That made it easy—though it wasn’t easy trying to bow out in a way described above. I had a few choice phrases I wanted to share with certain people there, but managed not to…

But if the church isn’t running you off, it’s more difficult to decide when it’s time to go.

A second church I left it was a financial issue. I was working the church and two other jobs and barely making ends meet. But more than that, one of the two jobs though “part time” was more of a full time commitment (worked as administration at a 3-day a week private school/home school cooperative). When I started there I told them the church was my primary focus, and they said okay. But what ended up happening was the school became my primary focus and both the church and I became frustrated that I couldn’t devote the time I needed to there.

As I prayed for wisdom, I looked at my first option: find another job on the bi-vocational end that will help pay the bills but give me the freedom to focus more on the church. This was after the economy had tanked, and in the town I did have some options of other jobs but none that would allow me the freedom to focus on church, let alone guarantee Sundays and Wednesday evenings off.

Faced with that reality, I had option two: look for another church, preferably full time. Circumstances dictated that situation.

But what I decided to do with that was resign from the church before I had another ministry position secured. I didn’t feel right searching for another position while remaining the pastor where I was at–I didn’t feel that I should walk in, smile, and shepherd the people when I knew I was searching for another flock.

That’s what I did and it’s worked out well. I have a full-time ministry with which I am happy; and they actually brought back the pastor who was there before me and seem to be doing great.

I will say this: I plan on being where I’m at for a long time; but if something were to happen and I felt it was time to leave–I would not remain pastor while searching for another church. I would resign and then put my effort to searching. I personally feel dishonest looking for another church while pastoring one.

5 Dave Miller July 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I just wait for a strong impression deep in my heart!!

6 Bob Cleveland July 4, 2011 at 10:58 pm

I think God mentioned something about the desires of the heart, in those who delight themselves in Him.


7 John Wylie July 4, 2011 at 11:12 pm

So, just asking, do you think that God’s direction can be something as simple as an inward desire? The reason I ask this is because I constantly try to evaluate my own motives. Sometimes I think that I shouldn’t leave because I don’t want to climb the ecclesiastical ladder, and other times I think the reason I’m afraid to leave is because I’m comfortable where I am. I know it’s weird, but I’m afraid my own heart will deceive me.

8 Jody Webster July 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm

I would add that if you’re leaving because you were asked/told to leave (it happens all the time) then you should be up front about what’s going on. I don’t think it does the church any favors in the long run to say you feel it’s time to move on when your resignation is being forced. The church doesn’t need to be run by backroom deals where your silence is bought by the promise of a severance package. I’m not saying you throw a fit but lying about the reason for your departure isn’t good for anybody.

9 bill July 4, 2011 at 10:27 pm

We had a youth pastor and his wife throw stones on their way out and in the weeks and months that followed since they continued to live in the area.

The pastor met with them months after he had left and asked them to please cease and desist with the attacks.

They didn’t cease.

So the pastor simply made all of the minutes and documents from the personnel, finance, and youth committees available for anyone who wanted to know exactly what went down. He didn’t advertise it from the pulpit, but he did personally call some who were at the forefront for causing dissent.

The truth of what all was revealed is that the youth pastor had cause to be fired and that the pastor had even negotiated a severance package on the youth pastor’s behalf which was a year’s severance with insurance. The youth pastor turned it down because he didn’t think that the pastor would actually fire him. The pastor even gave the youth pastor two months notice so that he may gracefully disengage from the church. He didn’t even do that.

When he did leave, there were a few months of confusion within the youth group and its volunteers. The pastor brought in someone that was recommended to him who actually ushered in an even better ministry in terms of numbers, programs, volunteers, and increased presence in the area schools.

Turns out the outgoing youth pastor hadn’t visited the area high schools in over four years before he left….

10 John Wylie July 4, 2011 at 10:46 pm

I agree with you, there have been too many behind the scenes firing of pastors and too many pastors have been blind sided because the hush hush attitude ensued. I think if the deacons, or the personell committee, or the bell heifer (y’all know what I’m talking about) are in the habit of quietly running off pastors without biblical warrant they should be exposed. Most of the time the good people outnumber the bad people, but they just aren’t in the know.

11 John Wylie July 4, 2011 at 10:48 pm

That was to Jody.

12 Bill Mac July 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm

“3. Don’t pull the “God told me to leave” card as to why you’re leaving, unless God miraculously spoke to you.”

Ha. I agree of course but I’m sure this one won’t be popular, judging by the post of a few days ago.

Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a resignation that DIDN’T use this terminology.

13 Dr. James Willingham July 5, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Excellent guidelines!

14 Jim Pemberton July 12, 2011 at 11:27 am

We too often think better of ourselves than we ought – pastors, elders, deacons and members alike. Chuck Colson said that part of the problem in the US with regard to the lawmakers is that the populace in general is becoming ungovernable. I wonder if that could apply to church bodies and their leadership structures as well.

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