Possibly one of the hardest roles of a church planter/pastor/leader is making the decision that it is time for someone to move on from your team or staff. Or as a denominational leaders, when a pastor/planter/staff decides to move on as well.
As one that has asked people to move on and one that has been moved on, there are a few principals that we need to learn when doing so. Some might think I am writing this out of spite [there are a couple of well known kicks in the teeth we have received the past few years]. I am not.
I am writing it because we have a real issue with this in the church. Corporate America seems to treat it’s employee’s better than most churches/organizations. This is a sad, sad fact.
3 simple principals that we must follow:
1. Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
While you don’t have to tell gory details and vicious things that are not needed, don’t try to be politically correct and spin things like a 24 hour cable news program. Say it like it is. People will accept good leadership, whether they agree with it or not. They will not accept spin, half-truths and lacking of other things listed below, even if the decision is correct.
2. Take care of the person’s family.
Jesus tells us to love our enemies, and to go the extra mile with them. If someone wants your outer garment, get naked for them, right?
It amazes me that not only do we not go the extra mile often in the church with those we love, we tend to make them the enemy to justify our actions. If God is really asking someone to move on, why are we so offended by this? [Pride]. It is never easy when someone leaves the vision that God is burning in you. Get over it.
We tried to make it a priority to give staff who was asked to move on 8 weeks of pay and benefits, even if they did something egregious! They have a family and their family did nothing wrong.
I have 3 times been dropped in the middle of nowhere as a planter with little to no notice. To go from being the sole earner in the family, living in a strange land with no family, and far from a support system…to be cut-off with no warning is inexcusable. Same with a staff person. We must take care of those moving on.
3. Radically love them.
Jesus calls us to a much higher standard than corporate America. I mention corporate America so much because the church seems to think that it is the best way to act at times. I have had several people say something to the effect of, “Dang Charles, my corporate job treated me way better than those people who are to be Christian leaders did.” [I know this is not true in every case, but I hear it more and more and have witnessed it first hand as well].
I know of people who talked to their leaders about possibly planting a church in the future and were promptly terminated a short time later.
I know that you want nothing more than to have your staff settled again, the drama gone and get them pushed out and another moved in. But after being on both sides of this equation…it is imperative that you show more than just a little love to those who are leaving your church. Shower them.
Lastly, if they had a position where there was a ton of influence, try to keep the relationship strong to where at some point you can ask them back to teach again. This kind of love takes work. It takes a pure heart. And it will show the world and your church that we are different. Since when should corporate America trump the church?
[If you have been dumped hard and kicked in the teeth as a pastor/leader, please read this one book that will radically change your perspective: Exquisite Agony by Gene Edwards. And if you need someone to process this with, hit me up.]