Staff, just like members, come and go in the normal rhythm of church life—20 percent of Americans move every year and that one factor alone affects all churches and staffs.
This may alarm or even scare other staff or members of your congregation. They may wonder, "What went wrong?" Was it a result of sin or incompetence or conflict? Yet this is rarely the case.
In Saddleback's 21-year history only a very small handful of staff have left for negative reasons. Instead we rejoice as staff members step out in faith to follow God's will into new areas.
Where are some positive reasons why church staff members leave:
1. A stage of life. Sometimes staff leave because of a change in their life or family: having a baby, kids entering school, spouse changing jobs or being transferred, having to care for an aged parent, getting married, needing greater income, going back to school or retirement. These are just a few of hundreds of valid stage-of-life reasons.
2. A stirring of God. Sometimes staff leave simply because they sense God wants them to do something else! They feel a "stirring" or restlessness in their spirit, which often indicates that God has other plans in mind for them. Some people feel the pull of God to go to seminary full-time or get more education to prepare for future ministry.
Sometimes the stirring is circumstantial—the job they were hired to do is finished, or the job has changed due to the growth of the church, or the church has restructured and is moving in a new direction. God often has people "serve for a season" in order to benefit His church at that particular moment and also to teach and develop them.
The reality is that almost no one stays with the same job for his or her entire lifetime. In fact, one of the primary ways God teaches us to trust Him is through job changes. If we never had to change, we'd never have to live by faith.
I like to use the illustration of the American Moon Project—thousands of engineers worked for NASA on different stages of the project. But when their part was finished they moved on.
3. A season of healing. Sometimes staff members leave in order to "take a break" and focus on some physical, emotional or relational health issues. Sometimes it is a personal health issue and sometimes it is to care for a family member. Either way, we applaud people for making a wise and healthy decision. Work should never be at the expense of your health.
4. A sense of greater calling. I have said repeatedly "You don't judge the strength of a church on its seating capacity but by its sending capacity." As a purpose-driven church our goal is to "Bring them in, Build them up, Train them and Send them out!" This is true for both staff and members. It has never been our goal to selfishly cling to all the talent God raises up in this church. We want to share it.
Over the years we've had many staff be trained at Saddleback and then sent out to plant new churches, and to help existing churches—as pastors, staff members of other churches, missionaries, Christian organization workers, consultants to other churches, seminary teachers and even as volunteers in smaller churches who could not afford staff.
My dad used to tell me "Your first ministry is never your greatest ministry. It is always preparation for what God will eventually do through you." After nearly 30 years in ministry, I have found this principle to always be true. If someone is at their first church, don't be surprised if God moves them eventually.
5. And sometimes it's private. On rare occasions, people leave staff for PRIVATE reasons. In those cases, it is my commitment to protect the privacy of those individuals. So sometimes we don't publicize the reason the staff member has chosen to leave.
Regardless of the reason people leave, your response should always be the same: gratitude for the time God allowed them to serve, along with prayers and best wishes that God will continue to use them in the future.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Dr. Mark Rutland's
National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)
The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!
FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.
The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.