What should the departing pastor say to his church...

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What should the departing pastor say to his church...

Postby William Thornton » Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:20 am

...when he is leaving for another church? This is mainly for Dave and the other pastors. Would you say, Dave, that the departing pastor sets the stage for future problems by not taking some time to explain his future relationship with the church after he is no longer their pastor?
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Re: What should the departing pastor say to his church...

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:27 am

William Thornton wrote:...when he is leaving for another church? This is mainly for Dave and the other pastors. Would you say, Dave, that the departing pastor sets the stage for future problems by not taking some time to explain his future relationship with the church after he is no longer their pastor?


You are absolutely correct, William. How we leave sets the stage for how we will be perceived and the relationships we will have following our service to a church. There are several things that need to be said.

1. I give thanks to God for the privilege of having served with this congregation.

2. After this month ends, I will no longer be your pastor, but I want to continue being your friends and fellow-pilgrim as a Christian.

3. I will be glad to return for special events, but only when invited by your interim pastor or by your next installed pastor.

4, My love and prayers for you will continue.

5. The greatest gift you can offer me is to work hard to help your next pastor succeed in his/her ministry.

6. I long to see you be far more successful in the future than you have been in your past journey, and I will be praying for you.

7. Friends are certainly welcome to visit with us in our new location, but please let us know that you are coming so we can arrange some time to be with you.

I try to share that with the congregation as I am leaving.
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Re: What should the departing pastor say to his church...

Postby Rvaughn » Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:32 pm

Dave, I think these are very points. Thanks for sharing. It combines "moving-on" gracefully with also not simply washing your hands of Christian friends, who, in my opinion, should rightfully remain Christian friends for life.

I would add a general point, not specific to the question of the OP. Baptist preachers in general are often "moving-on" too often. Sometimes on the pastor's part to hasten up the ladder, and sometimes on the church's part having pushed him off the ladder! Over many years I have come to believe that staying longer (longer pastoral tenure) is usually better for both the church and the pastor. Of course, we don't live in an ideal world and have to deal with things as they are.
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Re: What should the departing pastor say to his church...

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:36 pm

Rvaughn wrote:Dave, I think these are very points. Thanks for sharing. It combines "moving-on" gracefully with also not simply washing your hands of Christian friends, who, in my opinion, should rightfully remain Christian friends for life.

I would add a general point, not specific to the question of the OP. Baptist preachers in general are often "moving-on" too often. Sometimes on the pastor's part to hasten up the ladder, and sometimes on the church's part having pushed him off the ladder! Over many years I have come to believe that staying longer (longer pastoral tenure) is usually better for both the church and the pastor. Of course, we don't live in an ideal world and have to deal with things as they are.


Pastor/church relations is a topic in which I have been involved for a long time and have written a couple of published articles and a privately published book. Baptists have slowed the rate of turnover in recent years, but not nearly enough. Sadly, some churches only give raises when they have to match the expectations of a new minister which often provides a short-tenured model of those who cannot make a living where they are. There are also churches which keep a permanent "committee of three" who continually overturn a pastor's stay. Some churches fire every other pastor. The list goes on, but the point is that tenure is not at all what it needs to be for relationships to be built across time.
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Re: What should the departing pastor say to his church...

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:37 pm

When I leave a church I write a newsletter article explaining similar kinds of things to what Dave suggested above. It’s a good list!

I always add that I won’t return to perform anyone’s wedding or funeral. I also this last time mentioned that for a time that I would refrain from commenting on or contacting members of the congregation by social media. With Facebook etc. it is way to easy for congregants to be sending you notes trying to get you to comment on what the new pastor is doing. If they see my commenting on their material often it makes it more tempting for them to engage me in that way. I plan to keep that policy for at least the first full year away from Sioux City. Having made a three hour move does help.
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Re: What should the departing pastor say to his church...

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:03 am

The closest I have been to a former church was 22 miles, but there had been an almost seven-year gap between times of service. That helped me, but it is far more difficult when the pastor or staff member moves 10 to 20 miles for the next church. I realize that God opens doors in that way, but it does complicate the situations. My moves in full-time ministry have involved (in order) three hours, three hours, eight hours, six hours, and five hours. Those distances certainly cut down on my temptations to go back.
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Re: What should the departing pastor say to his church...

Postby Sandy » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:07 pm

Dave, don't you serve as an intentional interim for churches? Is it the same for an interim pastorate?
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Re: What should the departing pastor say to his church...

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:13 pm

Sandy wrote:Dave, don't you serve as an intentional interim for churches? Is it the same for an interim pastorate?


I do serve as an intentional interim and have served as a traditional interim. I certainly apply the same principles to either, but I know that some do not.
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Re: What should the departing pastor say to his church...

Postby Tim Bonney » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:30 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:The closest I have been to a former church was 22 miles, but there had been an almost seven-year gap between times of service. That helped me, but it is far more difficult when the pastor or staff member moves 10 to 20 miles for the next church. I realize that God opens doors in that way, but it does complicate the situations. My moves in full-time ministry have involved (in order) three hours, three hours, eight hours, six hours, and five hours. Those distances certainly cut down on my temptations to go back.


I’ve never been less than 100 miles or more away from a previous church until now. I’m about 1/2 an hour now from one of my previous congregations. But that was three churches ago. Won’t we visit there anyway. So, no worries for the current pastor.
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Re: What should the departing pastor say to his church...

Postby Rvaughn » Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:47 pm

I live within 5 miles of one former church. It is the church in the community where I was born, grew up, and live at the present. My brother-in-law is a deacon, my uncle the treasurer, a cousin the song leader -- and so on (very few there to whom I am not related by blood or marriage). At 102, my Mother is the oldest member. We visit there occasionally (mainly a quarterly singing that is held there), but I don't meddle in their affairs. The pastor who followed me stayed about 15 years -- second longest pastorate in the church's history. The current pastor and I are friends (I didn't know him before he came here) and I don't think he perceives me as a threat (and he has no reason to). We will be having him preach for us at our church soon. (The church I pastor is about 10 miles in the other direction.)

People smarter than I recommend not pastoring family, but it was not a negative experience for me (or the church as far as I know). But there is probably always some degree of "lack of respect" since you're just "litte ol' you" that some of them knew when you were in diapers (the real kind). That probably helps, though, once you are no longer the pastor and the new pastor doesn't have to worry about them giving you more respect than they do him.
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