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How Do You Exit a Church Gracefully?

Leaving is a process, not a point in time.

How can you leave a leadership position in a way that benefits those you have led? It's easier when we remember leaving is a process, not a point in time. We can be thoughtful about several steps along the way: 1) when we are thinking about leaving but aren't sure, 2) when we are actively looking for another position, and 3) when we have announced our leaving.

First of all, when you begin to think of leaving, your attitude impacts the whole organization. This will affect people even when they don't consciously realize it. When I began to consider leaving the church I had served as pastor for over a decade, more people got angry with me about a variety of issues than ever before, even though I hadn't told anyone what I was thinking.

Most leaders keep their thoughts of leaving secret. They think it will compromise leadership if they tell. "Lame duck" is a favorite phrase. And while I wouldn't recommend that you announce your thoughts via the pulpit or broadcast e-mail, you may find places ...

May/June
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