Saying goodbye to a church whether it has been for a few months or many years is not easy. It is though the nature of ministry in the parish. We know or should know that our pastoral ministry belongs to God, not to us and not to just one congregation. At least that is what Mary Lindberg reminds us in her book The Graceful Exit: A Pastor’s Journey from Good-bye to Hello. This is just one of the great resources I have discovered as I prepare to transition out of one congregation and into another. I would highly recommend it to any pastor preparing to leave whether it be for another call or retirement. There are many good insights and opportunities to journal at the end of each section.
Here are resources that I have found helpful in my saying goodbye and hello that may be of help to other pastors going through the same transitions in ministry. Click on the picture to learn more at Amazon.com.
From Amazon: Pastors say goodbye to congregations. Sometimes their goodbyes are timely and sweet; sometimes they are jarring and painful. But as they leave, they face a unique journey of grief, one shaped by their role. They face both the outward grief of leaving people behind and the inward grief of leaving an identity behind. In The Graceful Exit, Lutheran pastor Mary Lindberg shares insights from her experience of ending her service to a congregation, as well as wisdom from other pastors who have changed their life work. Lindberg invites readers to pull apart the strands of self and role, individual and community; confront regrets, confusion, and dislocation; and figure out where and who God is at this juncture in their lives.
From Amazon: Leaving a pastorate is hard on both congregation and pastor. Learn how to make this transition a growth experience for all. Written for congregations and pastors, Saying Goodbye skillfully weaves accounts from clergy, laity, and educators of seven denominations with White’s own insight as a former General Presbyter to create a resource for meaningful and healthy partings. Includes examples of a “farewell” worship service and litany for closure of a ministry.
From Amazon: Beginning Ministry Together is about the transition period between the announcement that one pastor is leaving and the time when another pastor is well settled. The message brought by Roy Oswald and colleagues Jim and Ann Heath is that this is not an impossible time to be survived only with a lot of expert help. Rather, even though the task is complex, committed congregational leaders can handle it―with the help of people who have been on this journey before. Oswald describes how clergy and congregations can better end and begin pastorates. He shows them how to say good-bye and discern their needs for the future―how to use the open space between pastorates for evaluation and preparation for a new day.
From Amazon. Roy Oswald, who ministers to pastors with great compassion, perceptiveness, and skill, now brings eight more years of field experience to an updated edition of “New Beginnings.” Important new material includes: More wisdom about how to take care of yourself in the midst of the stress of transition…how to get clear about your role in your new parish…how to get along with people you don’t like (as well as people you DO like)…how to celebrate with the search committee. Getting off to a good start in your new pastorate is crucial. If you have moved or are about to move into a new parish ministry, this workbook will help you take advantage of the special opportunities and avoid the pitfalls in the first 18 months of a pastorate.
From Amazon. Sharing years of wisdom from more than fifty years in ministry and teaching, The Ministry Life: 101 Tips for New Ministers by John Killinger is filled with practical advice and wisdom for a minister’s day-to-day tasks as well as advice on intellectual and spiritual habits to keep ministers of any age healthy and fulfilled. With a chapter of guidance from other pastors, the book shares important and timely insights that will help ministers, both new and seasoned, find their way a little more quickly and easily.
From Amazon: This wise and practical guide provides clear insight for both pastors and congregations on how to begin a healthy, productive new pastorate or make a fresh start in an ongoing ministry. Author Kennon L. Callahan, today’s most sought-after church consultant, has conferred with thousands of pastors and congregations, helping them discover their strengths and gifts and showing them how to work together in service to their community and mission. Here he offers fresh suggestions on how pastors and congregations can ensure a solid future together, whether they are newly beginning or beginning again.
From Amazon: Every time a pastor goes to a new church, they form hopes, dreams, and expectations – without necessarily realizing it – for the progress and growth of their new ministry. Not only do these pastors have to transition into a new congregation and community, but they also have to think about building strong relationships with other influential people in the area. Almost every day, pastors of new churches face unexpected hardships and challenges. Some of the issues are financial mismanagement from their predecessor, moral or ethical misbehavior, or unresolved conflict that has just been suppressed long enough to find a new pastor. The fact is, pastors of new churches need guidance. The First 100 Days is for these pastors who need some guidance and insight to help them lead with godly wisdom and purpose during the first few months.
If my readers have discovered other books that have helped them, please feel free to pass them along.