It seems to happen all the time in churches.  About the time you find a wonderful volunteer leader, get them trained and their ministry really starts taking off, they resign.  This happens for all kinds of reasons.  Some people are forced to relocate for work, others just find themselves in a busy season of life, and a few will get mad about one thing or another and leave.  So what should you do when leaders resign and leaves you and the church in a bind?

  1. Pray for them, and pray with them – The vast majority of the time your leader has struggled in making their decision to resign.  Their resignation can make them feel guilty, and bring a sense of letting the church and even God down.  So make sure you shower this leader with an extra dose of prayer during your time with God.  Don’t forget to pray with them as well.  Find a time when you can have a short time of prayer together, it reminds them of God’s love, and also your love for them.
  2. Communicate with them- Many times in today’s culture the resignation comes in the form of an email, Facebook message, or text.  Be sure to let the leader know you received the message.  Let them know that you will be praying for them, and would like to schedule a time to pray with them.  If they don’t hear directly from you they will assume you are mad or upset because they stepped down.  This will make coming back to the church even more difficult for them.
  3. Assure them- When a leader resigns there is always a feeling of uncertainty that accompanies their decision. Take some time when you meet with them to assure them that God has a plan and purpose for their life and that He has a plan and purpose for this ministry team as well.

Now here are three things you should never do when a leader resigns.

  1. Beg them to stay- This one is always tempting but it should be avoided.  Once a leader has decided they need to step down you should make that transition as smooth as possible for them.  Asking them to continue to serve, or give it more time will in the long run only make them less likely to attend church at all. Now if a leader comes in and says they are “thinking” or “praying” about resigning then feel free to gently and biblically encourage them to stay if you feel it is God’s will.  But never lay a guilt trip on a leader or tell them how much their departure will hurt the church or ministry.  Doing so will almost always result in the leader staying on for a little longer but then eventually they will leave the church all together.
  2. Pretend like its no big deal- While you don’t want to beg them to stay you also don’t want to pretend like they won’t be missed at all.  Finding a happy medium between the two here is key.  Many times in our effort to not beg them to stay we communicate that they were not that important to the team to begin with.  Make sure you tell them how important they are, how valuable their ministry has been, and that they will be missed.  This can then be followed up with something like “but I understand that there is a season and a time for everything in life and I am thankful for the season you served here at the church.”
  3. Never hold their resignation against them- If they want to serve again as a leader sometime down the road, never say “well you remember what happened last time don’t you…”  Certainly from time to time you will come across a person who switches ministries every few months, and comes and goes as fast as the seasons change.  This kind of person will be the rare exception not the rule however.  So if you are fortunate enough to have that seasoned, gifted leader return to the team count your blessings, get them involved as soon as possible and understand that this new season of ministry will likely come to an end at some point in their life as well.

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