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Preparing to Leave a Church You Love

Even when you know it’s time to move on, you’ll likely face mixed emotions.

2. Expect resistance from others.

As a leader, you have touched the lives of others, and they’ve placed trust, even if it is a small amount, in you. When you leave, some people may feel that you have betrayed this trust. They may know intellectually that God sometimes asks people to do things and doesn’t tell them why, but their emotions may still follow unexpected paths. Be prepared for a wide variety of emotions as you begin your exit.

It is the human propensity to tell ourselves the story about the situation that makes us most comfortable. This means the stories that people tell about your departure may not be true (even those whom you served shoulder-to-shoulder with). That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to correct each one. Consider who you want to talk directly with about leaving, and take the time to make phone calls or sit down with these people, sharing what you can while supporting the leadership of the church (insofar as it does not violate Scripture or conscience). You want to finish well, so take the advice of Paul from Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

3. Trust that God will call someone to take your place.

The people you are leading are God’s people first and foremost, and he will not leave them without someone to shepherd and care for them. Keeping this in mind will go a long way to help you end well. First of all, you may feel—both as you prepare to leave and after you’ve left—that you’ve abandoned people. You may also have mixed feelings about the person who may end up filling your role, knowing that the new person may not carry on the work you’ve started. But know this: God will send someone to do the jobs he wants to be done. If he’s calling you elsewhere, he’s also got a plan for filling your current spot.

4. Know that building new community won’t be easy.

You have probably taught on how to build and maintain healthy community in a church—maybe you’ve even written curriculum about it. Actually building a new community, though, is tough work, even if you know God has placed you in this new community for a reason.

March28, 2018 at 4:53 PM

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