To Leave or Not to Leave…That Is the Question

Some of the most troubling times in my ministry was when I was questioning about leaving a church or when I was approached by a church that seemed challenging and attractive. What should I do? If you didn’t read the last post on this topic: When Does a Preacher Decide to Leave?

Some things that helped me think and gain wisdom


  1. Buy a house when practical when you move to a new church. Making emotional, relational, and financial investments, in the beginning, can slow knee-jerk reactions at frustration later. This kept me from quitting on several Mondays. It’s harder to list a house, sell it, move, and buy or rent another than to rent a U-Haul and move away on impulse. Going somewhere is better than running away from something.
  2. Take a trip. I had insight when I was away from my home and local work that clarified my thinking about leaving or staying on more than one occasion.
  3. Read Wade Hodges’ book, When to Leave…Before You Go. He says, “The only sure-fire way to keep from being haunted by the specter of having left too soon is to make sure you stay too long. Just don’t stay so long that you fry your system and disqualify yourself from future opportunities. The goal is to stay long enough without staying way too long” (Kindle Locations 112-114). Wade examines the insides of a preacher to help him learn how not to meet the same problems at a new church he had at his last church because he brought himself along.
  4. Cultivate a friend who will tell you when he or she thinks it’s time for you to go. When I was fired, then rehired, I had a friend who told me it might be time to go. After I got over being mad and hurt, I concluded he was right. It’s been forty-two years. I still think he gave me good advice. John Smith story.
  5. Pray before you make up your mind what you’re going to do. God promises to give wisdom when we ask for it (James 1:5) and when we work for it (Proverbs 2:1-5).

Be willing to spend some painful time in confusion before you come to a final decision to go or stay.

What has helped you to decide about making a move?


(Thank you to Jeff and Dale Jenkins for permission to use this. This first appeared in Hope and Expectation, a work of The Jenkins Institute. Subscribe to their valuable resources:

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Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

6 Responses to “To Leave or Not to Leave…That Is the Question

  • Bruce LIgon
    5 years ago

    As I reflect on my thirty-three years of ministry, I recall an occasion when i left too soon. I thought I knew it was time for me to go. Now I understand that was a knee-jerk reaction. The thing about was that no one wanted me to leave. I was just ready for something new. I was 29 at the time.

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      5 years ago


      Thank you for sharing the lesson you learned from experience.

  • Travis Irwin
    5 years ago

    Great advice. The only thing I would add is listen to your spouse. Many of my issues, especially with burn out could have been prevented if I had listened to my wife.

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      5 years ago


      Excellent observation.

      And in moving, if children are still home, listen to them and let them express their thoughts and feelings.

  • It is healthy to take a Friday and Saturday or a full 3-day weekend to get away to a hotel or camp ground and invest in your marriage and your ministry. Detach yourself from all electronics if possible and spend the time on each other and your ministry from a far view.

    Elderships could really bless their preacher to fund this weekend get-a-way for him and his wife annually. It is a worthwhile refresher.

    One instructor told me to write my “resignation letter and then place it in a desk drawer for no less than two weeks. Then take it out, read it and either tear it up or present it. A part of that letter should be some of what you mentioned to reflect upon what steps must be taken to move if that is the decision.

    Always appreciate your wisdom in helping form more effective men of God!

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      5 years ago


      Good suggestions.

      Thank you for sharing.