7 Suggestions for Pastors When You Lose a Good Team Member

by | Apr 13, 2021 | Church Leadership, Pastoral Burnout

I have some suggestions for pastors (or leaders) when they lose a good team member. This post came to me the hard way. It came after hanging out with one of my favorite people I had ever worked with. I hated when we parted ways professionally.

Let’s be honest, pastors. When you have great staff people, the team is set and everything is going well, it’s hard when someone leaves. Even when they are leaving for a better opportunity – it often stinks.

Replacing quality people is one of the hardest things we do as pastors and leaders.

How should you handle things when a team member leaves for other opportunities?

 

7 suggestions when you lose a good team member:

 

Pause and think bigger picture.

 

You’re a Kingdom builder. You are on a mission and called to be part of a grander plan – God’s plan – more than you are to one local church. Every team member (volunteer and attendee) in the church (including you) are simply part of this plan.

 

Grieve the loss.

 

You likely invested a lot personally into the person. Most likely you are going to miss their friendship, as well as their work. Whoever replaces them will not be the same. (They may actually be a better fit for the season you are in now, but it will be different either way. Change is hard for the church – and it’s difficult for us too at times. Believers don’t grieve like the rest of the world (1 Thessalonians 4:13), but we do grieve. We grieve with hope always in mind, but grieving is a healthy way to deal with loss.

 

Don’t take it personally.

 

Most likely it is a reflection of what God was doing in the team member’s life – and possibly in the life of the church. It may have nothing to do with you. If it is personal then it is a good time to evaluate where and who you are and why someone felt they needed to leave.

 

See the opportunity in something new.

 

I used to have a boss who when someone would threaten to quit he would call them in and have them stick their hand in a bucket of water to see how much the difference one hand made in the level of the water. It didn’t make much. I know, because I once had to do it.

I’m not saying it was the gentlest of approaches – and I have never used it personally, but it was certainly humbling. I never forgot it. The point he was making was everyone can be replaced. Everyone. Sometimes new can even be better. Transitions are difficult, but afterward new can create opportunities for the church you never dreamed of – but God did.

Whenever a team member leaves our team I like to step back and reevaluate the entire team. We don’t get those opportunities often.

 

See yourself as an investor in people.

 

You have to see your role as a people-builder more than a position builder. It’s great to have the best student ministry in the history of the church. Far better, however, is to have a student minister you believe in and invest in personally who is open, just as you should be, to being wherever God may lead. Rejoice in this with them. (As much as it hurts, this includes the worship pastor, the small groups or discipleship pastor, and the key volunteer leaders in the church.)

 

Keep in touch with the person leaving.

 

Stay in touch, as much as the other person will allow, in what God is doing in their life in this new season. Chances are you and your leadership were a part of this season also. Rejoice in what God allowed you to be a part of doing in someone else’s journey.

 

Celebrate what God is doing new.

 

Celebrate the work God is doing in the person’s life who left and what He is doing in the church for the future. On the way out celebrate one person leaving and on the way in you’ll get to celebrate for another team member replacing that person. The more you can celebrate the healthier the environment will be you are trying to lead.

These are just a few suggestions when you lose a good team member. I’ve been there – and, I’m sure I will be again. Saying goodbye can be difficult. It shouldn’t be devastating if we approach it correctly.

Church Website Hero

Church Website Hero offers a done-for-you service that takes all the stress, hassle and guesswork out of building and managing your church website.

Ron Edmondson

I am CEO of Leadership Network. I was previously pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church, a church leader and the planter of two churches. I am passionate about planting churches but also helping established churches thrive. I love assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy, and life. My specialty is organizational leadership, so in addition to my role as a pastor, as I have time, I consult with church and ministry leaders. I have more than 35 years of leadership experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and have been in full-time ministry for over 15 years. I have successfully led the restart of one church and the planting of two churches, and now we are seeing God’s hand tremendously in church revitalization. I have a seminary masters and a master’s in organizational leadership. I also once helped lead (as an elected official) a mid-sized city, where I served as Vice Mayor and Finance Chair. The greatest times for me are with my wife Cheryl and our amazing adult sons, Jeremy, his wife Mary, and our youngest son Nate. Over 20 years ago, I founded a non-profit ministry called Mustard Seed Ministry, which provides devotional resources, conducts family, marriage, and parenting, and church leadership seminars. My INTJ personality on the Myers-Briggs indicator means I have big ideas, I love creative and critical thinking and I love to see progress. I am usually around people but crave downtime. For years I was usually training for either a half or full marathon. Running was my most productive thinking time. Knee problems in recent years have caused me to stop running, but I’m committed to finding the time I need to fuel my mind, body, and spirit. I write several times weekly on leadership, church, and family. To sign up for my blog on a reader or by email, click HERE. I do interact with my readers, so feel free to contact me. You can email me at ron.edmondson@gmail.com.I am also on Google+ at http://www.gplus.to/ronedmondson, Twitter at www.twitter.com/ronedmondson and Facebook at www.facebook.com/ronaedmondson. My devotional site is www.mustardseedministry.com