It’s been several weeks now since I’ve left my youth pastor job to travel, speak, and write more, and I haven’t looked back. Regrets are killer and I happy to report that I have none. It was my time, my moment, and I took it.
I couldn’t have asked my church for a better send off. Their love and support was without match and I shall remember them always.
I wanted to leave them in the best shape possible and, I imagine, the day you leave your youth ministry, you’ll want to do the same (or at least you should)
Even when I got fired from a church, I wanted to be classy, even if deep down, I wanted nothing more than to let my flesh rise up and tear everyone down. I had to be better than them, even if they were wrong.
I created a video a while back sharing 7 Things We Can Do Leave With Dignity and Grace, but I’ve added a few things. You can watch the video below and then read on if you like.
So, how do you pull off this magic trick of leaving a ministry with some class and dignity, no matter the circumstance? Let’s begin.
What are the thing you cannot control?
You can cannot control what others will think or say. Ninety-eight percent of your church will not understand your reasons for leaving. Not really. My church was sad when I left. This should be a goal BTW, because if they’re thrilled you’re are leaving… well, that’s not great.
You cannot control what the Church will do next. Once you’ve made the move, the gears are turning and you should step back lest you get caught in the moving parts. I made my recommendations and stepped out of the way, letting things move forward without my opinion.
What are the things you can control?
If you have any grievances in the church, you can make them right. I, thankfully, had to my knowledge, none. I had made right everything I could make right.
You can control what you post on social. Be sure to be thankful and grateful for your time at the church and what God taught you, even if the church , pastor, etc. didn’t meet your expectations.
Be an example to students on how believers should act. Your teenagers will not remember how you came in, they will remember how you leave. If you have some issues, don’t dump on them. They deserve a clean slate without our baggage.
Don’t ask kids, or anyone else, to “take a side” if you’re butt-hurt over an issue. Sure, it feels good to have people support you, but don’t ask to be pitied, hold your head up and be proud of the work you did do.
Here’s are a few other tips I’d like to offer.
Consider your last message, what message do you want to leave your youth with? If this is your first day on the job consider writing that message now. Live that last message, so kids will know it was your conviction all along.
Write up everything, including:
- who are your leader
- what do they do
- who are your student leaders
- what do your student leaders do (or could do in your absence)
Write down all online subscription plans, such as as DYM etc.
Tell students you love them and are thankful for them.
Tell your leaders you love them and are thankful for them and that without them you couldn’t have done it.
Make sure you include passwords so people can access them.
Write down the typical order of service, any outstanding events you have planned including camp, etc.
Include any recommendations based on how you think the group could run without you until another youth pastor is found.
Make recommendations of adults (seniors, mom’s, etc) who would be good editions to the team.
If you do any of the social media stuff, make sure you have other admins.
Make a list of any church roles you may have that need attention in your absence. If you run the the Facebook Live on Sunday morning, make sure you’ve trained someone, etc.
Clean your office. Leave it better than what you found it. Don’t take office supplies, etc, that’s a rookie move. Leaving a last little note on your desk.
You can make it funny or meaningful so that when someone finds it, they have one last great memory of you.
Send a thank you note or e-mail to your pastor, whether it is under the best conditions or not and let them know what you you learned from them, if anything or if you want to thank them again for their support.
If you have any other suggestions, you are welcome to leave yours in the comments. Stay classy youth pastors, stay classy.