Last week we explored the question of seeking a pastoral call; this week our question pertains to how we leave a call. In many of our denominations an exit interview is employed in the process of a pastor's departure from a ministry setting.
I'm currently in my first call, but hoping to be moving to a new call soon and so I'm doing some looking ahead. I'm currently an associate pastor, but I imagine this topic is relevant for others also. Exit interviews. What about them? I guess I'm full of questions. Who should be a part of them? What kinds of questions should be asked--on both sides? What is the benefit of exit interviews? How long should they last? What am I not even thinking to ask?
Signed ~ Hopefully needing one soon
One of our matriarchs, Jennifer, who blogs at An Orientation of Heart responds with the following:
What an exciting time! A new call brings with a flurry of activity, and you’re wise to be thinking about good closure at your current call.
An exit interview can be a really valuable part of a pastor and congregation’s good work together.
As an associate, it’s appropriate to check in with the pastor (if one is in place) or your higher governing body (if you have one) to ask these very questions. There may be a process in place, either through your congregation’s personnel or ministerial relations committee, or more likely, through a parish/pastor relations committee or Committee on Ministry (Presbyterian terminology). I’m most familiar with a two meeting process, with an exit interview with you and supervisory folks from your current call to make sure that loose ends are tied up and folks on the scene are familiar with what needs to be done for a good transition, and a separate meeting with your COM rep (or insert appropriate higher gov. body committee name here) to talk about big-picture issues. That committee should have a set of questions in place that asks about your experience, highs and lows, special stuff they ought to know, and to lay good expectations about future contact between you and the congregation from which you are departing. Usually, that meeting is with you alone and with a rep. or two from the higher gov. body committee. You should feel free to ask any questions or offer any information you feel you need to in order to leave well and begin well in a new setting. I think the length of the meeting would be determined by how happy or how frustrated you’ve been in your present call.
Hope all of your journeying goes well!
There were no other responses posted to this week's question, but it doesn't have to stay that way. I am sure that many of our readers have had the experience of leaving a pastoral call. Please share your insights using the Comment function of this post.
May you live in God's Amazing Grace+