Monday, February 20, 2012

How Do You Know When It's Time to Go

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Go?
This is the season when many pastors begin to wonder if it’s time to move, to consider a calling to another ministry situation. How do we know when it’s time?

To begin, let me say this is a process of discernment involving a lot of prayer and consultation with trusted friends, colleagues, denomination personnel, and of course, our spouses. There is no formula, but there may be signs which God may use to point the way.

– church leadership makes it plain – this speaks for itself
– disagreement or conflict with senior leadership over fundamental doctrine, direction, vision, or values. Some things are small and can be overlooked, but others are not and cannot
– suggestions from others, perhaps denominational leaders, that you would be better suited for other ministry
– feeling it is time to “test your wings” in a solo / senior position
– increasing difficulty to recruit volunteers – there are lots of reasons this may be so. One reason may be that people lost confidence.
– feeling that we have done all we can do – the ministry has outgrown us or needs someone new for the next phase
– lack of vision for the future – nothing new to bring direction and energy
– vision for a different kind of ministry
– change in senior pastors – some systems require associates to step down but others do not. I have always said I would a give it a year to see if I could work comfortably with a new pastor. Sometimes, however, it is clear that things will not work well.
– finances – lots of associates start in small churches. But add a spouse and children, and it may be necessary to move in order to feed the family.
– practical or family matters – location, health issues, children’s, spouse’s, or parents’ needs may be pressing concerns which lead us to ask God for a different ministry

Something to remember – never resign on a Monday or in February. I got this from a friend years ago. Translation, don’t confuse tiredness or the dark discouraging days of winter as the leading of the Spirit

Finally, seek advice about when to bring your pastor into this discernment process. Because of situations or personalities, it is not always possible or wise to include the pastor in discussions about whether to seek another situation.

To include other factors or ask questions, comment below.

Feb 20, 2012 Rev. Troy Dennis (BA, MDiv., MA, Arrow Leadership) is Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church in Moncton NB Canada. Ordained in 1995, he has been through the process of changing ministries several times.

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