It is always exciting to get that first ministry gig. We are full of energy, looking forward to sleepless night accompanied by a strict diet of pizza and stale candy. This was all we ever dreamed of and wouldn’t ask for anything to change ever… until one day it does. So many reasons cause us to leave our ministry. Whether it’s the result of burnout or from something like relocating with your family, no matter what this can be a sticky subject to breach.
Talking to the Parish Staff:
if you work for a parish, it is likely to assume you understand this is more than a job. What you do is a ministry. When approaching the parish staff, after you have notified the pastor, there will likely be some kind of shock. Why would they leave? Where are they going? Make sure to assure the staff that the parish itself is not what you are leaving, but just moving onto the next stage in your ministry and career. I have seen this happen when youth ministers leave to take positions in high schools or as directors of religious education. There is no reason to make the parish feel like they dropped the ball on you. Thank them for teaching you how to “do Church better” and you will bring that with you in your next position.
Talking to the Parents:
Where would we be without the parents? They literally gave you the teens that you ministered to. They were a part of the journey with your teens (whether that was visible or not and whether that was positive or not). Thank them, seriously thank them. They may not have expressed it over the years but trust me, they appreciated what you have done to help their teens become who they are today. You were there for the late night pick-ups and the weekend retreats. These are invaluable and intangible gifts that were given to that family.
Talking to the Teens:
This may be the most difficult conversation to have. These are the young people who you saw weekly, sometimes more. Ok, who are we kidding; you saw them all the time! How can you tell them you are moving on? It is important to make it clear that you aren’t leaving the Church, or them. You are just moving onto the next stage in your life to best serve and provide for your family and yourself. Assure them that the Pastor and the parish will continue to provide for their other spiritual needs and bring them closer to Christ.
Leaving ministry and the changes that come with it is never an easy thing. The key is to be thankful for the opportunity to serve those in the community and to make sure they know your appreciation. Click To Tweet
This will go a long way with the parish staff, parents, and teens that you served.