Leaving a youth ministry job is weird, complicated process but it happens a lot — espescially when youth pastors only last 18 months.
It’s important to leave your church and youth group on good terms and on good standing. To read the first part on how to leave a youth ministry job click below:
And the two best books that will help you make the transition the best are:
When leaving a youth ministry job, you have to plan your exit.
Whether youth pastors like it or not, the time of exit will test your character. Trust me it will be so easy to point the finger and blame the church for why you “have” to leave or you feel justified to share all your feedback about the church. But in the moment of your youth ministry exit, it is imperative you conduct yourself with the upmost professionalism.
4 Ways To Keep Your Cool During Exit:
1. Be close to Jesus
Jesus is our true senior pastor. Spend a lot of time alone in deep reflection on your exit and on your future. At the end of the day, you work for Jesus. So go back to the source and get clarity to why and how you are going to exit your position. Many people will criticize you that you are leaving them. They will feel abandoned by you. Keep close to Jesus to help you turn the other cheeck.
2. Be Decisive
Make a decision about when you are leaving and stick to it. People will want you to stay, but be firm when they ask why you are leaving. Say something like: Following Jesus means having to make hard decision. and I have some exciting plans for the future. Emphasize your passions for ministry and that God has opened up a new and exiting opportunity. It is important to exhibit clarity and confidence when exiting your church and youth ministry. People will want dirt so make the decision on what date you are done and make the decision not to gossip.
3. Be Honest
Be honest with your senior leadership for the real reason why you are wanting to leave. Don’t be completely transparent with students and parents. It is really wise to not be divisive when leaving your church. It is not productive to “gossip” with other parents or students about why you are leaving. Vent to trusted people outside of the church or a counselor or spouse. Remind yourself that this isn’t the first time a church employee is leaving the church for the same reasons you are leaving the church. You are the star of the show. You were given an opportunity to do what we all love doing — leading a youth group in a church context for a season. Be wise and walk gently. If you need to feel justified remind yourself silience is the biggest revenge.
4. Be Gracious
Smile and extend gratitude to your church. Your church gave you a position to do what you love to do: Minister to students. This is a gift. No matter how bad your situation is at your church, you have an incredible position and be thankful for the season you were able to do youth ministry and lead a youth group at this particular church.
What’s the process to plan your exit?
➡️ Connect with friends and mentors outside of your church.
Ask your close community what they think of you leaving your current position. Be completely real and open. Listen to their wisdom. Also make sure these individuals are outside of your church community so they can offer fair and non-bias feedback.
➡️ Take time to carefully weigh your options.
Tap into your youth ministry networks. Put feelers out. Ask the questions of: where do you want to minister next? What type of salary do you need? The average youth pastor salary 48k. The youth cartel talk more about youth pastors salaries here. Is youth ministry still for you? What does your family need? How long will you continue to stay at your current position? Do I need to step out of church ministry?
➡️ Create a financial plan
Revise your monthly budget. Identify your financial needs as you exit your current season and enter your new one. When leaving your youth ministry job ask about cashing out your vacation time and your retirement account. Reconfigure how much your monthly budget will be as you enter a new season of ministry and/or life.
➡️ Secure good references
Assuming you finish well, it is essential to have good references for the future. The people who you worked closely with, know you the best. You may need more references in the future. Ask them before you leave if they will give you a reference.
➡️ Leave work in good order
Ask the question of: How can I help get the ministry secure before I leave? Clarify what needs to be done before you leave. Book together a document listing out password, ministry model, rosters with contact info and passed calandars. This will greatly help the longevity of the seeds you sow.
➡️. Mend fences
If there is any bad blood between you and anybody in the church (including staff) go after it and deal with it. Yes it will be hard and very easy not to do this. But if any unresolved issues are not handled, they will come back to haunt you for a long time and possibly create more pain as you minister in other churches. Now I know real relational pain hurts and you may not be ready to make a mends and that’s okay too. But evaulate if there are any pains you have not addressed or became aware of while doing the Lord’s work. I have too many ministry friends that left their church on bad blood and have incredibly awkward relationships with their old church.
➡️ Prepare family for the transition
Get your house in order for the move. More than likely, your family will begin to be alienated from the church, as you transition out. Make sure you spend a lot of time debriefing with your family as many mixed emotions come to surface as you exit.