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?
9 Practical Steps to Take If You’re Let Go From Ministry
Follow these practical steps to protect yourself and the church.
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 hurt.
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.
f 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 church.
10. Ask Questions
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.
11. Move On
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 through it.
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.
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