Wednesday, January 9, 2013 10:37 AM

Saving Your Family Without Killing Your Ministry

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 10:37 AM
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 10:37 AM

My wife and I have 3 grown kids. One has survived a brain tumor, one was a straight arrow, and one was a challenge. My eldest daughter...

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013 10:38 AM

Eight Healthy Ways To Respond When People Leave Your Church

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 10:38 AM
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 10:38 AM

Every pastor faces it.

Most hate it.

You can't avoid it:  People leaving your church

In my over 20 years as a senior pastor (and a another 10 as an associate), for various reasons I've probably seen hundreds of people leave the churches where I served. In one year over 100 people left the church I planted after I gave my infamous "Willow Creek" talk. I had just attended one of Willow's early conferences and within two weeks I delivered a message about all the changes we planned to make. It didn't work. In my immaturity, I had failed to wisely manage change.

Except for those blessed subtractions (those who leave who have created problems in your church), unless you are an emotionless robot, when someone leaves it hurts.

Here's how I've tried to process my painful emotions when people leave:
I don't disparage them to others after they leave.
I reach out to those who had significant roles in the church. Often I will meet with them.
I NEVER burn bridges. I wish them well and pray for them in person if possible.
I don't try to hide their leaving from other leaders, and neither do I broadcast it.
Recently we've attempted informal exit interviews to discover why leavers left and if there's anything we can learn.
When I see them again, I reach out and show genuine interest in how they're doing.
I don't let myself become bitter. God has graciously given me short memories about hurtful church experiences. His grace soothes the hurts.
I remind myself that Jesus also faced those who left Him. John 6.66: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
People leaving your church is inevitable. It is how you act and how you lead your staff by example that is important.  Although it might be hard, treating those who leave with grace is always the best policy.

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Katie

Well spoken. The kind, gentle response you promote blesses me.
I also have realized that people may leave a church because of the wonderful, often unknown, moving of the Holy Spirit wanting to work in their lives in a new environment. I find it helpful to focus on the larger church and continue to love, pray for and uphold the one who leaves. Who knows, God may push me out of the nest next. Maybe we need to teach our people how to leave in a Christ honoring way .....when they are not making the difficult choice. Thanks for your ministry and labor of love.
Katie

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