How often do you celebrate and prayerfully send people off from your ministry, whether a specific ministry area or the church altogether? In other words, how often do you release people well? I think this is an area of the church that pastors and leaders need to grow in.
We should celebrate people wanting to pursue a calling in a different ministry area, city, or pursuing a different church that may be a better fit for them. How selfish of us to want to hold on to people that have the potential to bring the gospel in a brighter way potentially somewhere else? Saying goodbye to people is difficult, but it is something to celebrate if we are doing it well in the church. Here are a few groups that I have identified that all churches/ministries could grow in celebrating in releasing them well:
1. Moving on to a new area
Some people just get tired of serving in a certain ministry area, and either need time away to reenergize or have the opportunity to serve elsewhere in the same church. Some people have the opportunity to serve in an area that is using their giftings better. We need to celebrate their time in our ministry area, and send them off well. Encourage them in their new opportunity to use their Kingdom gifts to serve the church body, and help them to find another opportunity that is a better fit for them. Just releasing people and never contacting them again shows them that all they were was a number to you. Serve them in celebrating them well and giving them the opportunity to serve the body of Christ in a new way.
2. Moving on to a new city
People move. It happens. How are church leaders and ministries sending people off well and supporting them after they are gone? I read an article recently talking about the uniqueness of the college-aged ministry because you only have students for 3-4 years most times before they move on. This is a unique opportunity to train people up and send them off as missionaries to a new city and new church. What an opportunity! Every church should celebrate sending people off as missionaries to new cities in this capacity. If churches saw people moving as an opportunity to send off a missionary, I bet this would change how ministry is done to better prepare people for their local neighborhoods before sending them (if ever) to a new city and neighborhood.
3. Moving on to a new church
The local church is not called by God to be something for everybody. Each church has a unique calling, purpose and mission from God for their ministry. Not every church is going to be right for everyone, and this is ok. I believe churches and ministries should celebrate people in releasing them to another church or ministry that will be a better fit for their giftings and what God is putting on their hearts. Church leaders become so possessive of people that they don’t do this well often times, and that is a shame. When you are selfish in not giving people your blessing in a new ministry or when you try to be something to everyone you not only hold them back from their God-given potential, but you hold yourselves back as reaching your God-ordained potential as a church for what God has called you to be. Give people the opportunity to be sent off well. They aren’t yours. They are God’s people.
Releasing people is difficult. But it is necessary to do this well as it allows people to feel appreciated fully and that they can best serve in a new ministry area, new city or even a new church with the blessing of the leaders around them currently. All leaders should improve in releasing people well as it gives people the opportunity to serve where their heart is and prepares them for what God has for them whether near or far.