When you leave one ministry for another, it’s vital that you do so in an appropriate manner, ensuring that you are following God’s leading rather than your own gut reaction as well as making sure that the relevant people are kept in the loop.
Leaving your existing ministry
Perhaps you set up a ministry or have been sowing into it for many years but it seems to have come to a natural end, or you simply feel it’s time to move on. The first vital step is to pray. Not just a quick ‘I think I need to leave Lord, is that ok?’ but a time of prayerfulness that allows God time to answer your prayers and guide you in the right direction. It might be that you need to stay a little longer, or you may feel God is already leading you in a particular direction. Whatever you do, don’t make a rush decision and keep an open mind.
If you really feel God is bringing you to a new chapter in your life, seek out your church minister or whoever you are answerable to. Talk them through your feelings and explain how God seems to be leading you in a new direction. It’s important that they know you are moving on for the right reasons and that it is not a knee-jerk to something that has just happened. Ideally you will be able to leave with his or her blessing and you may even be able to suggest a replacement. If things feel tense, go away and pray about it again. You’ve had time to process your decision but others may need a bit more time to get on board.
Choosing a new ministry
It may be that your new role is a natural progression, but if not you will once again need to take time to think about your next step. Where do your talents lie? Are you an expert in youth work? Do you feel led to help the homeless? Are you a good public speaker or a budding accountant? Think about how you could use these skills in a new role. Ask God to open the right doors, even if he takes you in a completely new direction.
When you have narrowed down the options and the time comes to meet people who are involved in potential future ministries, it’s important that they share your vision as well. Find out why the person currently in the role is leaving if you can and ask about how decisions are made within the team. Perhaps you will be pastoring a church yourself. If so, who will you be working alongside and who would you be accountable to? You are likely to spend a lot of time with your team so it’s important that you feel you would get along and that they will support you through any tough times. Alarm bells should ring if there seems to be discontent or rivalry within the existing team.
List your job expectations
Think about what you hope to get out of your new ministry, both professionally and personally. Is the role you are considering compatible with this? Will you have enough time outside work to do the things you currently do or will it be all-consuming? How does it pan out financially? While your decision shouldn’t necessarily be based on the money factor, you will need to think carefully about it if it involves a major drop in salary. As well as doing an excellent job it’s important that you feel fulfilled in your new ministry and that you are working effectively and making a difference. It’s also worth finding out what your new team or congregation’s expectations of you might be.
Enter with grace
It can be tough for others involved in your new ministry if you rock up on day one and make a series of drastic changes. This may be something others have invested a great deal of time, energy and even money into. Pray that God would help you work in harmony with your team or congregation and seek his guidance when it comes to making big decisions. Be friendly and willing to listen to advice, but don't be afraid to speak up when you need to. Be enthusiastic but not overzealous and allow yourself time to settle in and adapt to the new ministry. It won't fall into place over night, but that's ok.