You weren't planning to quit. In fact, you just finished setting
your ministry goals, and you thought you were doing what the church
called you to do. Suddenly you're told that you need to find
another position -- at another church.
You're in a state of shock! What do you do?
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Follow these practical steps to protect yourself and the
1. Seek God. Spend time alone with God and
commit the situation to him for the guidance you need. God is the
one in control of your life. His purposes go far beyond the initial
2. Recommit to your calling. After you've spent
quality and quantity time with God and in his Word, recommit to
your passion and calling for children's ministry and move forward
in love -- not anger. This could be a time of the most spiritual
growth in your life and ministry.
3. Record ministry specifics. Review records in
your ministry over the past few months. Document attendance and
growth patterns. Ask yourself: Is this ministry area growing or
declining? What's the growth pattern in the total church? Compare
attendance and enrollment numbers from when you first joined the
staff to the present time.
Consider the results of any recent special events. How many
people have come into the church or gotten involved again because
of these events? Document positive and negative results.
4. Discern root problems. Have there been
changes in the pastor's behavior or your leadership's behavior?
Have there been any changes in your behavior? Determine if
something might be driving this decision, such as sin or severe
depression. If the answer isn't obvious, don't spend too much time
on this issue.
5. Continue to minister. Don't neglect the
people in your ministry. Remember: You're serving the Lord.
6. Adjust your attitude. Drop the "poor me's"
and any attitude of revenge that'll only make matters worse. Don't
blame others or even the Lord. Perhaps God is protecting you from a
particular situation that might occur later in that church. Accept
God's loving sovereignty in your life.
7. Document everything. Keep written records of
all conversations you have with the pastor, leadership, or any
committees. It sounds paranoid, but it's for your protection.
8. Get advice. If you have a mentor or someone
you can confide in (preferably not in your present church), do so.
Ask this person to pray daily for you and to advise you. Be open to
positive and negative feedback.
If you have no one locally to turn to, call Focus on the
Family's Pastoral Care Line toll-free at (877) 233-4455 (Monday
through Friday). The staff of Pastoral Ministries will pray with
you and talk to you and your spouse (if you're married) about how
to handle the situation with each other, your children, and the
church. In addition, they can send you pertinent articles and the
Transitions and Terminations tape series that features pastors
who've been through such an experience in their ministries.
9. Guard your speech. If you have very close
confidants in your present church, be careful what you say to them.
Sometimes the people you believe are totally happy with your
ministry may be the very ones who want you gone. As much as you may
be hurting, don't cause a split or angry feelings in the
If The Ax Drops
If you're given your marching orders, ask how your termination
is to be handled. If you haven't received anything in writing prior
to this, ask about a severance package to include salary and
insurance coverage for a predetermined amount of time.
What if there is no severance package? Kindly, but firmly,
inform the church leadership that this is not acceptable. Work
together to arrive at a mutually agreeable severance package. Then
put everything in writing and have it signed by the people in
charge (personnel committee, advisory board, deacons/elders, and
pastor). Do not give a resignation letter until the severance
agreement is signed.
After the dust settles, how do you portray this experience to
the next church that calls you?
Be honest with the pastor and the interviewing group. Avoid
negativity or blaming anyone. Explain that you don't understand why
it happened and be specific about how the Lord has helped you grow
Your authenticity will enable this prospective church to see
your passion and heart for ministry. If this ministry position
doesn't work out, it's not the ministry God has for you. There's a
church out there that'll call you and want your walk with the Lord,
your talents, your passion, and your heart for children. In years
to come, you'll look back and know that the Lord allowed this
transition time for you to serve in a greater capacity.
Remember: Everything that happens is not necessarily God's
desire, but God will use it all for his glory!
Selma Johnson is minister to children and women at Grand
Parkway Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.