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Making it Easy To Leave

This week I’m reposting some thoughts I had around this same time last year.   I’m really hoping I can get some comments, and would love to hear if anything resonates with you:


Yesterday I asked the question:
First Question: How do I get current volunteers to recruit their own replacements?

I got moderate response to the question, but I’d love more. Today I’d like to tackle an issue that I see constantly amongst my volunteer workforce.

Second Question: How do I make it easy for people to leave my ministry?

Let me explain. I don’t want my volunteers to leave. I love and appreciate their time investment in my area of service. But at the same time I don’t want them to feel like working with me is a death sentence. There are other things in the church, or outside the church for that matter, that people might find fulfilling. There I said it. It’s true. What they do for me, or my area of ministry, isn’t the most important thing in the entire world. So how do I consistently make people feel like they could comfortably leave if they felt called to something else?

I think the biggest factor to creating this kind of environment, is to encourage participation in other areas of the church. I also go to great lengths to praise other areas, and celebrate success in other areas of the church. I also think that just having a healthy environment for my workers to exist in will eliminate the bondage to my ministry.

I have spoken with a family recently that feels held hostage to the class they teach. They aren’t happy with what they do, but feel that if they leave the class will only get worse. They’ve been tricked into believing that they can’t leave. Changes will be made soon, whether they like it or not.

Let the comments fly!

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Starr · May 20, 2009

    I think oftentimes people fill space in a classroom as a “favor” to their good friend the children’s pastor or nursery director. So to step down would be seen as a slight against their friend…they keep working because they don’t want to let anyone down. We need to work to make sure people are serving for the right reasons, not just because of allegiance they feel to people in leadership. They should never feel like friendships would be lost if they were no longer serving in a certain area.

  2. Scott · May 21, 2009

    A person chooses to teach in a classroom for a variety of reasons. But, whatever the reasons to start, the reason to continue often comes down to responsibility or guilt. A teacher feels that he has responsibility for that class and, by leaving, is failing in his responsibility. (“If I don’t do it, who will?” syndrome) Or he feels guilt at wanting to leave, at not wanting to serve in the kids ministry.

    Someone once told me: “The only thing worse than a vacancy is a filled vacancy.” Someone who no longer feels called or committed to teaching a class becomes a filled vacancy. I think we need to help kids’ leaders know/understand that working with kids is a calling (even as a volunteer) and that God’s calling may change after a year or a few years. And that’s okay.

    (Of course, we also need to encourage people to listen for God’s call to kids ministry, too. God doesn’t send children to a church without calling adults to lead them.)

    Scott ´s last blog post..Four Musts for Effective Teaching