Leading Through Change - When Staff Members and Church Members Leave

WHEN STAFF MEMBERS AND CHURCH MEMBERS LEAVE

  1. STAFFING IS A KEY DECISION
  • 1 Timothy 5: “Do not lay hands on a man suddenly.” Any staff hire is a very important, sobering decision. Be slow to hire.
  • You want to hire someone who is focused on the TOWEL, not the TITLE. You are here to SERVE.

2. HAVE A PROCESS IN PLACE FOR EVALUATING STAFF AND KEY VOLUNTEERS

You are giving people significant responsibilities; have a system for evaluating:
  • Character — Not just about morality. Look at their work ethic, faithfulness, integrity.
  • Competency — Are they all hat, no cattle?
  • Culture — Do they fit well within your existing culture?
  • Chemistry — Likeability Factor. Do you enjoy being around this guy?
  • Calling — Look for the fingerprint of God on the hire of that person.
  • Capacity for Leadership — Can they grow with the role and the growth of the church? Can they reproduce themself and become a multiplier, not a maintainer?
3. UNDERSTAND + ACCEPT THAT SOME STAFF + CHURCH MEMBERS WILL HAVE TO TRANSITION
  • Understanding this will save you a lot of heartache.
  • Think of your church like a bus with stops along the way. What happens at a bus stop? Some people get on and some people get off.
  • There will be significant transition points as your church grows.
  • When this happens, remind yourself that this is just all part of the process of church planting.
  • Don’t lose perspective. Your “loss” may actually be a huge win!
  • Some folks need to get off the bus.
  • Why do people leave your church?
  • Sometimes staff will leave you because the responsibilities have grown beyond their capacity to grow with the role.
  • They may outgrow the responsibilities. Your job is to always make sure your staff are being challenged.
  • They may lack the character / competence / chemistry required to stick with it.
  • They may not want to do the spiritual and emotional work in order to grow.
  • Unexpected circumstances arise in life. Think seasons. Life happens in seasons.

4. REMEMBER THAT ALL STAFF AND MEMBERS NEED TO BE HELD LOOSELY.
Anything you hold tightly you suffocate.

5. PROMOTIONS TO KEY LEADERSHIP ROLES SHOULD BE CAREFULLY CONSIDERED THROUGH PRAYER.
  • Faithful in the little before being faithful with much.
  • Make sure they have been tested.
  • This doesn’t always work: people fool you. Potential staff will lie to you to get a job.
  • Be very careful in giving out titles… You can’t take it back.
  • It doesn’t feed your ego, it fits your function.

6. CELEBRATE THE STAYS AND POSITIVELY RELEASE THE GO'S.
  • For some churches the only time the Staff has a party is when someone leaves. When is the last time you had a party with the people who STAY?
  • Sometimes God calls you to go but often God calls you to STAY!
  • Sometimes someone goes and it’s a good thing. Sometimes someone goes and it’s painful. Sometimes people go when they shouldn’t and you can see the truck that’s about to hit them, but they won’t listen to you.

7. BE PREPARED FOR + POSITIVELY PROCESS THE EMOTIONS THAT WILL ACCOMPANY THE EXIT OF PEOPLE.
  • Loss leads to Grief, which can confuse people. Be prepared for the grief. You love the person, you’ve invested in them for years.
  • When you feel grief, don’t beat yourself up about it. Allow yourself to experience and feel.

8. GIVE CLEAR GUIDELINES TO DEPARTING STAFF ON YOUR EXPECTATIONS REGARDING COMMUNICATION.
  • Information Void can crank up a church gossip grapevine: “What’s happening behind the scenes?”
  • This happens when there is too much of time that passes between their decision and the communication.
  • It is foolish to allow departing staff to announce their departure.
  • Provide information to fill any potential void. SOMEBODY is going to tell ‘the story.’ You need to protect the health of your church as it continues moving forward.

9. EXPECT EMOTIONAL RESPONSES TO ANY STAFF MEMBER’S DEPARTURE.
  • Help them process, give them assurance.

10. LEARN LESSONS FROM DEPARTURES THAT CAN MAKE YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION BETTER.
  • How can we improve for next time?
  • What can I learn from this?
  • How can this make me better?

11. AVOID PROLONGED DEPARTURES.
  • When someone says they want to leave, let them.
  • Don’t drag it out or they will drag people down with them.
  • When they say they want to leave, their heart has already left.
  • Be generous in their transition.

12. BE APPROPRIATELY GENEROUS TOWARD DEPARTING PEOPLE WHO LEAVE WELL.
  • Err on the side of grace, not pettiness.
  • Oftentimes people who leave will talk badly about you behind your back. Be gracious.

13. EXPECT A HONEYMOON PERIOD ON SOCIAL MEDIA AT THE DEPARTING PERSON’S NEW PLACE.
  • “This new place is amazing!” Which means your place wasn’t.
  • At some point real life will kick in and they’ll stop.
  • Weather their honeymoon. You don’t need it in your spirit.
  • If it’s getting to you, delete the app.
  • Social media can feed a failure mentality.

14. DON’T GET DISCOURAGED.
  • Don’t Think You’re the Only Person This Happens To.
  • This is the secret: don’t get discouraged. Fight it.
  • People WILL leave your church.
  • Staff members WILL betray you.
  • Don’t give air to fear.
  • Pruning leads to better fruit and a better future.
  • Get up and keep going by faith.
  • Sometimes you have to wait 11 years to see someone who left in a bad way come back in repentance.

WISDOM FOR DEPARTING STAFF
  • If you’re leaving a church, get planted somewhere. Don’t wander.
  • When you get planted somewhere, be a son or daughter of that House.
  • Be an honorable, loyal, ethical, trusting Christian. Integrity matters. Honor your former pastor. Don’t go bush-league.
  • If you’re leaving a church, do not play the “God told me” game.
  • Don’t run from your issues! Your next church won’t change things. Geography doesn’t fix your problems.
  • Remember whose spiritual platform you have been using and you have been benefiting from. You were LOANED a platform. Never take the power and trust.
  • Never steal sheep.
  • Never steal staff. That is unethical behavior.
  • Fulfill your commitments. Don’t cut and run. That only hurts God’s people.
  • Leave your assigned area of responsibility stronger, not weaker.
  • Encourage commitment and faithfulness to the House that you’re leaving.
  • Watch your words, non-verbals and your actions on the way out… …because God is.

Jonathan Herron

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