I believe everyone, well every minister has heard terrible firing stories. Probably, some of you that read this blog have experience this story personally. There are horror stories a plenty. There are the “you are fired” and you are gone today. There is no timetable for the minister to locate another work. There are the “you are fired, get out of our house, and you have no money” stories. There are the odd, “you are fired, and here is two weeks pay” because of course every preacher can locate another work in two weeks because churches move so fast. Leaders must remember that ministers do not receive unemployment from the Government, and unfortunately there is not a ton of savings that ministers have. So the firing can completely ruin the money picture for preachers for the rest of their lives. But of course, firings are going to happen. It is not totally wrong to fire the minister, sometimes he deserves to be fired, sometimes he does not, but it still needs to happen, and other times, shame, shame. But if it must happen, it needs to happen right. There is a wrong way and a right way to fire the preacher. And mostly if you do it right, it will go better, and in the long run cost the congregation less. Here are some suggestions.
1. Have a exit plan. This means, if the firing is a matter of opinion, he is a good man, but he is just not getting the job done, work on the exit plan. Give him 6 months in which he can look for another job, allow him to travel to accomplish this. Allow him to preach, and part of the deal is that he is to resign, and make this work, in other words, do not cause trouble for the congregation and the elders. Yes, some will argue this, but a preacher needs to go out with class.
2. Always provide 6 months of pay. Even if it was his fault, big moral sin, still provide for him. Be patience. If he is living in the preacher’s house, allow him to remain for this time. He is going through enough with his family and friends, and the shame he is dealing with, do not add to it. Provide counseling and accountability. Yes, he might not deserve this, and yes he committed the sin, and yes, and yes, and yes, but yes neither do you deserve the grace of God. Show some mercy, it is the Christian thing to do.
3. Resigning or Firing. Always give the option of the resignation. Of course some ministers will not take this, but you can help them make this choice. It is better for the congregation and really for him as well. Have two packages, one for the resignation and one for the firing, and make the resignation package more appealing. Yes, yes, some would say this is dishonest, just fire the man or you are buying off the man, but in the long run, it works out better for both parties. Pride can become a issue in these cases, so attach some incentives to overcoming pride. And maybe in a perfect church this does not need to happen, but we do not live there. And elders, if you ask for the resignation, it means you fired him, and the preacher chose really the only option. The preacher did you a favor by resigning.
4. Preachers, be classy. Hey, if you are fired, go out with class. Do not drum up resistance to the elders, yes they might have been wrong, and yes they did you wrong, but hey, you need to show some mercy too. Years from now, they will remember what happened, and pride will not cloud it as much, and you might receive a sorry in the future.
Hope these thoughts help.
- Four Things a Minister Needs
- Respect for the Minister
- A Minister in a Small Town
- Elder’s Expectations of a Minister
- Writing a Book On Being a Godly Minister