Family Ministry

advice, thoughts, and discussion

How do you say Goodbye?

on April 21, 2013

It was announced to our church body this morning that my husband and I are moving on. The Lord has blessed us with another opportunity for ministry. We are excited for our new opportunity, but are so very sad to be leaving the place we’ve called “home” for the last year and a half. I’ll miss all the kids’ smiling faces and the love and encouragement from the families here. But, this made me think….what’s the best way to say goodbye?

Saying Goodbye

Once the congregation knows of your resignation, be prepared to answer questions. Most people will fall somewhere in the grief process:

  • denial — “no way”;
  • anger — “whose fault is this?”;
  • bargaining — “maybe if we ‘fix’ things, you’ll stay”; and
  • acceptance — “God is in control.”

Allow these people to move through the grief process at their own pace.

Anticipate and prepare for the hard questions ahead of time by agreeing with those you previously reported to as to what’s a mutually acceptable response to questions. Be as specific as possible without wounding the church on your way out. If your reason is too nebulous such as, “It’s in the best interest of our family,” people may wonder if someone in your family has cancer or if your marriage is breaking up. In any case, request that everyone who knows the details share only what’s been agreed upon. I can assure you that the phone calls and visits will come.

Take care of your family during the transition. Even though your family members were involved in the decision-making process, they too are in a process of change and recovery just as you are. When children are involved, it might be good for someone from outside the church — a denominational representative, a counselor, or possibly a mature friend who relates well to children — to visit with them, share the promises of God’s faithfulness from Scripture, and talk about any personal stories of experiencing God’s faithfulness in change.

As you work through the change and begin to explore new possibilities, keep talking as a family. When I left a staff position in one of the churches I served, my 6-year-old daughter’s greatest fear was that we would become homeless. We talked about this issue and I constantly assured her that God, our relatives, and good friends would never allow that to happen.

Also, keep praying individually, as a couple, and as a family. Give God the glory for his faithfulness and lean on him for the future. You may not actually feel this while you’re in the process of saying goodbye to a church that you’ve invested your life with, but it is true: God is good all the time. And all the time, God is good (Psalm 100:5).

 

I love and will miss you all!

 

Thanks to Children’s Ministry Magazine for resources

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