FIRST, EXAMINE YOUR HEART. PROVERBS 4:23 SAYS “KEEP YOUR HEART WITH ALL DILIGENCE, FOR OUT OF IT SPRING THE ISSUES OF LIFE. Take time to process your decision prayerfully, with wisdom, patience and in consultation with your District leadership as we are here to help.
ONCE YOUR DECISION IS MADE CONTACT YOUR DISTRICT OFFICE/REGIONAL DIRECTOR TO INFORM THEM OF YOUR DECISION TO CONCLUDE YOUR MINISTRY. After hearing from you, the District is prepared to come to your church to meet with you and to begin the pastoral replacement process
AFTER SPEAKING TO YOUR DISTRICT LEADERSHIP, COMMUNICATE YOUR DECISION ABOUT CONCLUDING YOUR MINISTRY AGREEMENT WITH BOARD AND LEADERSHIP. Graciously share your intentions with your Board, thanking them for the opportunity to serve and then follow-up in writing confirming the agreed upon ministry conclusion date. This will allow the Record of Employment to state the Ministry agreement had concluded and not that you resigned. If /when you publicly conclude your ministry appointment to the church body, do it with grace and with a positive spirit.
THE MINISTRY CONCLUSION DATE SHOULD NOT BE LONGER THAN 4 TO 6 WEEKS AFTER YOUR RESIGNATION HAS BECOME PUBLIC. Only stay longer if the Regional Director gives his approval. A longer stay could cause difficulty for you and your church.
THE PASTORAL REPLACEMENT PROCESS AND TRANSITION WILL THEN BECOME THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH IN CONSULTATION WITH THE DISTRICT. The District may ask for your input but the church leadership along with the District will give direction to the process.
BE POSITIVE WITH THE CHURCH DURING THIS CRITICAL TIME FOR YOU AND THE CHURCH. Dwell on the good experiences you had during your tenure of ministry and not on any possible areas of tension. Be careful not to cause any dissention or even appear to cause any disruption.
AS A PASTOR, HELP TO PREPARE THE CHURCH FOR YOUR DEPARTURE. Ensure that all relevant unfinished business is complete. By putting together a binder for the incoming Pastor with information that would include policies, job description, daily schedule and routine directions is very helpful. As a matter of process vacate your office prior to your farewell. Also have your financial details cared for with the church treasurer prior to the farewell.
PREACH TO HELP THE CONGREGATION WITH THEIR FUTURE. By continuing to be positive and thankful will help the congregation in the release. Therefore be instructional in preparing them in Biblical principles for your departure. This will prepare the congregation for the next chapter in their history. You are a servant of God, trust Him, preach the Word and avoid any personal issues.
TAKE THE HIGH ROAD. Whenever a Pastor concludes his/her ministry, it is possible that some people may say things that are hurtful or raise questions as to the reasons for your resignation. Again, be careful to guard your heart, not expressing negative information or reacting to their questions.
Say as little as possible and continue to reinforce the fact that you concluded your ministry in agreement with the Church Board, to follow God’s will for your life and that you have only right motives in mind.
WHEN YOU LEAVE A CHURCH ALLOW YOUR FAREWELL TO BE A CELEBRATION. Let the first and foremost principle be, “What is best for the Church” as determined by the Church Board and District leadership.
Graciously release ties with the church for a period of time to allow the church to find and bond with their new pastor. Disengage from the church even though you have friends within the Body. Let them know of the distance needed, spatially and time wise.
Be careful not to become involved in the affairs of the congregation whether by phone, e-mail or other forms of communication.
Remember you are no longer the Pastor. Guard your reputation.
Allow and trust the district to protect you and the church. This will keep you from violating the Minister Code of Ethics which is a chargeable offence under the PAOC constitution Bylaw#10.
Any visits to the church will be at the discretion and invitation of the new pastor. This may become a challenge if you continue to live in the community and your family wants to attend. Children usually do not pose a problem but you and your spouse will need to adhere to this recommendation. Do everything to honour/affirm the new leadership coming to the church, and in so doing, the new pastor will be able to be your protection in case there are people who to take up your cause either positively or negatively.
The Benefits Of Credentials For You & The Local Church
From time to time we are asked whether members of a pastoral church staff are required to have credentials. Well, our General and WOD Constitutions encourage all pastoral staff to be credentialed, but it must also be noted that ALL senior pastors MUST be credentialed with the PAOC in order to qualify for their position. The General Constitution explains about credentials and the method of obtaining them but doesn’t make it clear the full intent of the credential. Well, just as our Canadian currency has many security features to protect consumers and governments against counterfeits, Credentials with the PAOC also provide many security features.
THE FOLLOWING HIGHLIGHTS THE PRIMARY REASONS WHY THE CONSTITUTIONS REQUEST ALL PASTORAL CHURCH LEADERSHIP BE CREDENTIALED:
1. Credentials set a consistent standard for leadership, both in conduct and doctrine.
2. If the standard is violated then a course of action, that is acceptable to Labour Laws, has been established.
3. Credentials set a “fellowship standard” of brotherhood and submits to its intent, to protect BOTH the church AND the credential holder.
4. It removes the pressure of resolving local church conflicts from the leadership, who can invite a neutral third party (WOD) to intervene.
5. It identifies, for the sake of the government, a recognized covering body in relationship to the clergy tax benefits. In other words, you can LEGALLY claim the clergy benefits, which can save you thousands at tax time…or audit time for that matter!
Credentials form the basis to ensure that the leadership of the churches maintain a doctrinal purity and an ethical level of conduct. If not credentialed the church pastoral leadership are merely employees and as such the Provincial and Canadian governments set the “ethical standards” that employers (churches) can require of their employees. If you are on a pastoral staff and do not have credentials, I would encourage you to consider doing so. It requires a minimum of 20 hours of leadership per week and some doctrinal understanding to qualify.
If you are interested in receiving more info. on how to apply for credentials with the PAOC please contact Lynn McPherson.