Q+A :: Should I resign from my current church?


Q+AWhile I love my ministry job and my church, I am becoming increasingly “burned out” and depressed with what I do. Currently our church is having some pretty major financial difficulties, which makes this a good opportunity for me to resign.

I have always felt a unique calling on my life to serve with some sort of humanitarian organization. I see ministries like Feed the Children, Samaritans Purse, Hope for Haiti, Hello Somebody, and Sevenly and I have such a strong desire to do what they are doing. I know that you have very unique ministry, so I am hoping that you could offer me a little bit of advice about how I could begin a new career with an organization like those that I have mentioned.

-  Anonymous


There are really two questions here:

  1. Should I resign from my current church?
  2. How do I begin a new career with a humanitarian organization?

I will answer the 1st now and the 2nd tomorrow (click to read it).

#1 :: Should I resign from my current church?

Pray. Pray hard.

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This requires a delicate answer, and no one can truly answer it except for you and the Holy Spirit. Understand that you are not alone. Many ministers feel burned out. Many ministers are depressed. Many nonprofits are having major financial difficulties.

Don’t leave because it is tough (unless God tells you to go).
The pursuit of the Great Commission when done right is never easy. There will be many trials, but we are to be joyful about these challenges because they test our faith and mature us (James 1:2-4).

Don’t leave if the burnout is because of you doing too much (unless God tells you to go).
However, realize that the pursuit of the Great Commission when done right will not produce burn out and depression. Burn out is what happens when you give of yourself more than you fill yourself with the spiritual refreshment of a relationship with God (i.e., personal prayer, Bible study, and worship – not work related). This burnout may be from trying to do too much in your own strength rather than trusting God to show up. This burn out may be caused by you overcomplicating God’s calling for you by adding too many details, tasks, and requirements. If this is the case, cut programs and any of the fluff that is not Biblically essential to your mission, do you best, and trust God to show up.

Leave if the source of the burnout is out of your control (unless God tells you to stay)
Unfortunately, burn out sometimes is caused from abusive relationships from church leadership or from self-destructive management systems. If this is the case and you have tried to mend the relationships or repair the systems to no avail, your effectiveness in ministry may be quenched by leadership above you. Ideally, you leave as soon as possible. However, sometimes God calls people to challenging circumstances like this for a variety of reasons. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit amidst the frustrations.

Leave if the burnout is because you are called elsewhere
You mention feeling called to serve a humanitarian organization. Is it a passion, a romanticized dream, or a calling? If a calling, is the timing now or in the future? If now, then your burnout may be because you are not supposed to be working at the church. Pray hard about this. If you have to, cut distractions out of your life to heighten your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

There are many more possibilities that could be written, but I do not want to distract from the most important thing – pray and follow Gods leading.

You should also check out Anne Jackson’s book Mad Church Disease (ebook).

I will answer the second question tomorrow.

How would you answer this first question? Leave a comment to help Anonymous out.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

How to Fill Church Jobs with Quality Leadership

The people who make up your team are the most important part of your church after sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and obedience to God’s Word. Your leadership team molds the culture of your church and guides them for better or worse. And it is for this reason that you must create a great team before trying to create a great church.

Leaders of [organizations] that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. And they stick with that discipline.
Jim Collins

But we can’t look at filling church jobs with a strict corporate HR mindset. The right people for a church can often look quite different from the right people for a business.

Quality church leadership takes more than professional skills. According to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, a church elder should also be spiritually sound, a defender of the faith, wise, fair, reverent, well-thought-of, hospitable, accessible, gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry, committed to his wife, a good father, and more. So staffing your church requires looking at the spiritual and personal conditions of a job candidate and not just the professional skill set.

And because heart attitude is far more important than brain power, sometimes God chooses unimpressive people to do great things. So we must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in order to recognize the occasions when the right person may also be the unlikely one.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (MSG)
Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God.

It is better to be patient when hiring and get the right people than to quickly add manpower that leads your church in the wrong direction or slows it down as dead weight.

For extra help, there are church staffing organizations that can guide you through the process and scout out people who would be a good fit for your church’s job. Recently, Vanderbloemen Search Group (specializing in large church executive searches) partnered with Help Staff Me (specializing in mid-level staff) to combine resources and expand their networks of relationships. The partnership will likely boost the growing trend of more churches turning to staffing specialists to get the right people on the bus.

Of course, this only scratches the surface of how to fill church jobs with quality leadership. If you have some tips of your own, please share in the comments.

BONUS: Check out LifeChurch.tv’s rigorous interview process including testing, interview questions, and general philosophies from Craig Groechel and Jerry Hurley.

Church Leadership from a Mobster?

Yes, a former mob boss has good advice for church leadership. Michael Franzese turned his life around and has penned the leadership lessons he learned in his new book, I’ll Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse.

Having lived two different leadership styles, Michael compares the leadership styles of the worldly Machiavelli and the godly King Solomon. However, I particularly appreciate two bits of advice Michael gives early in the book.

There is no magic formula that will guarantee your success.

This life principle is important in any field, but in the pursuit of effective ministry, it is extremely important. There is no perfect church model. There are no 3 steps to megachurch perfection. God has given us each a unique calling. And unique callings require unique formulas to achieve success.

First, nail down the basics.

I am a firm believer of not pursuing the next steps until you have the basics covered. In ministry, first you need sound theology. First, you need the Great Commission. First, you need love. Paul sums up this concept beautifully in 1 Corinthians 13 when he talks about how his ministry efforts would be worthless without love.

Of course, I’ll Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse has many more leadership nuggets than these, but you will need to read the book for the rest.