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Firing Church People, Like Your Mom


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The church has to fire people for underperformance. It is no fun on many levels, but the feeling during the exit meeting of “I have a job still and you don’t” part is the worst. Letting someone go can be necessary for a number of reasons, but it sure doesn’t get any easier no matter how much practice you have.

The church is held to a high standard of excellence. We are after all the bride of Christ. Employees (or volunteers for that matter) that are unable to consistently contribute at a high level toward the vision of the church can’t be left to flounder. If they are left alone for fear of hurting their feelings (or their family) it will do at least 3 things.

  1. Prevent them from being in the place God intended for them.
  2. Send a message to all-stars around them that it’s ok to suck at their job, its not really that important.
  3. Make it harder to build Christ’s church (which ain’t easy as it is).

All of those are very discouraging…but it doesn’t have to stay that way. We can actually free people to pursue what God intended for them by confirming that their calling is somewhere else. Now the tricky part…

This is where the church separates itself from IBM or GE. When we fire church staff, they are still a part of our family and should be treated as such. We (the church) have a responsibility to walk through it with them, which includes honest feedback (not some cockamamie crap that is easier to tell them to try to make it easier on us). It isn’t fun at all. However, the better we get at just being in the muck with people the closer we get to loving and helping the way Jesus did. Corporate America says, “Leave your key on your desk”…we say, “Let me help you get your stuff…I’m gonna call you in the next couple days to see how you are doing.”

Don’t let more than 3 days pass before you call the person you just fired. You owe it to them to be there with them.

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Of course this blog is really only about underperformance…if they steal your wallet and set your church van on fire on the way out because you fired them for connecting their bank account to your online giving portal, then all of this changes. Then you say “leave your key on your desk, leave the desk right there, and you’re not my mom.”

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