The Truth about Turnover, Traditions, and Transitions

The Truth about Turnover, Traditions, and Transitions

Recently, I resigned as youth pastor at my church. But I kept coming to work. Sort of like George Costanza. Just pretty much pretended like it never happened. And no one said much. Ok, to be fair, they approached me about staying on until they found my replacement, and I agreed. Mainly because I like food and shelter, as does my wife. Also, I like my wife, who prefers food and shelter, and I wanted to keep her.

It’s a funny situation to be a “lame duck” at church. I feel like people are looking at me like, didn’t you quit or something? The students seem to be happy I am sticking around. But I think they are anxious to get the “new guy” in soon. Transition is just tough.

So how should one leave? Well, it depends. First, few have such a choice. Either a pastor leaves for another position or, well, their services aren’t needed any more. But if, as in my case, one can help a church transition, one should, especially if the church wants to continue in the same direction. I am thankful my church isn’t abandoning ship, so to speak, and going another direction after me. Sure, new ideas, new blood, new energy would be welcomed. However, I am a fan of not scrapping the core values that have been instilled for years as well as the end goal. Programs can change. Traditions can change. Logos can change. Curriculum can change. Many things can be updated and modified without going a totally different direction.

What kind of ministry are you building that is worth preserving?

So for youth pastors out there, allow me to finish by posing this question: what kind of ministry are you building that is worth preserving? Traditions? Will the students keep hazing at camp after you’re gone? Or will the ministry continue producing students with have depth and understanding?


Luckily, I will have the opportunity to hand my keys directly to the new guy, without worrying that an interim will, you know, ruin everything. Then I can move on to the Pearl House, and my church can keep on turning out great kids, but with a new person with new ideas to build an even better ministry on an established foundation. That’s the way to do it!

Steve Bullard

Steve is a college football fanatic and a suffering Padres fan living in Oklahoma where he and his wife and two daughters (as of June 20) make their home. Steve has been in student ministry for 18 years and he and his wife are currently working on a project in Ghana called The Pearl House where they will provide hope and shelter to young ladies who would otherwise live on the streets in vulnerable and dangerous situations.
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