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Leaving and Starting Well in Kids Ministry

As an Enneagram Type 1, it was important for me to resign from my 12-year kids ministry staff role the “right” way. But even thinking about quitting felt “wrong.” I’d vacillate between the pull I felt like God was drawing me towards then I’d picture the faces of some of the most amazing volunteers you’ve ever met. I’d think about healthier rhythms for my next season of life and then think of the kids I’d watched grow from kindergarteners who answered “Jesus” to every question, to preteens I’d baptized, to middle-schoolers leading our kids in worship each Sunday. Is there a right way to walk away from such an important role that we love, but feel our season is changing? 

There’s probably not one “right” way to leave a job, but there are certainly many “wrong” ways. Ministry transitions are delicate. It feels like there’s a lot at stake, but there are a few questions you can ask to transition well, questions like . . . 

How can I leave well?

How can I set up the next kids ministry leader to win? 

How can the church champion the next kids ministry leader to win? 

How can I start well in a new ministry role (if applicable)? 

…and more. 

There’s not enough space on your screen to answer these questions in this blog alone so if you’re just skimming, I’d strongly encourage you to take the time to read through our Leaving (And Starting) Well in Kids Ministry resource. 

But here are a few basic things to consider, and of course, it’s a list of Dos & Don’ts because, remember? Enneagram Type 1. Okay, back to it..

DO

  • Invite your supervisor into feelings of restlessness or frustration before making any decisions. If safe to do so, attempt to resolve tension and conflict that may be limiting your perspective.
  • Write an honorable resignation letter.
  • Be prepared to be told it is your last day when you turn in your resignation letter.
  • Complete any paperwork or exit interviews asked of you.
  • Create a transition team.
  • Clean out your desk and office and organize supply closets/ministry spaces.
  • Leave a programming schedule so your replacement can choose to keep Sundays feeling the same for the kids. 
  • Develop a communication plan for how you (and other staff) will communicate the transition to people. 
  • Take the high road in all conversations and interactions. 
  • Allow those you work with (leaders, co-workers, volunteers, etc.) to honor you adequately (this is closure for them too).
  • Thank everyone you can, including every single volunteer, and cheer for what’s coming next. 

 

DON’T 

Sorry to say “don’t” so many times, but without it, might you think it’s just another do list? 

  • Don’t rush your transition, and don’t drag it out. 
  • Don’t stop working hard just because you know you are leaving. 
  • Don’t leave before all your commitments are fulfilled.
  • Don’t leave gaping holes by leaving right before a big event. 

 

See? All those words, and we haven’t even gotten to Starting Well. Again, this free resource can help!

The truth is, I know that many of these ideas work best in a healthy church setting. And, if you’re leaving a toxic culture, it may not be possible to do all of these things the way you’d ultimately want to. It’s also true that if you’re starting somewhere new, there may be a moment where you realize there isn’t much you can do to start the way you may have hoped. If any of that is the case for you, I’m sorry. If you need someone to vent to, your Orange Specialist is a great person to process with or please feel free to reach out to me phil@thinkorange.com

Transitions are never easy and rarely fun. The fact that ministry is so relational and kids can have difficulty understanding changes can make this even more challenging. Thank you for doing what you’re doing. Thank you for investing in the faith and future of the next generation. It has mattered and will continue to matter long after you’ve moved on to what’s next. 

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