Fired, let go, moving in another direction, not the right fit; the terms go on and on but the point is the same and it sucks. There are five lies people tell you when you are let go from a church.
Being let go from a church can be one of the hardest and deepest pains you will ever feel. It’s like the world’s hardest gut punch and often it comes completely out of the blue. If you have experienced this you know exactly what I’m talking about.
It truly is the dark side of ministry they don’t tell you about when you so eagerly sign up, wide eyed and bushy tailed, completely oblivious to how cruel and deeply painful ministry can be. Whether your story is one in which you saw the end coming, or like mine where it’s completely out of the blue, it hurts.
It was a Thursday. I was doing follow-up from the previous night’s youth group and some prep work for the upcoming weekend services when I was called into the lead pastor’s office. Such a meeting wasn’t too unusual but this time when I walked in I immediately knew there was a very clear purpose for this meeting. He looked me directly in the eyes and said my “employment has been terminated effective immediately.” I instantly racked my brain trying to think what I could have done wrong, or what could have happened at youth group the night before. I thought about the growth that had taken place in the ministry since I started, the structure added, the leaders recruited and trained—nothing I could think of warranted being let go. I was in good standing with everyone and had not done anything morally or spiritually wrong. I was in utter disbelief.
While my head was still spinning I was told not to talk to anyone, just gather the stuff I could and the rest would be sent to me. For some reason, the leadership thought this was the correct way to treat someone being let go “so they didn’t stir anything up.” I was in shock and the pain felt as if it were physically being poured on me. Every negative chemical in my body must have been released because my head, stomach, and chest hurt and I could feel the blood had drained from my face. I learned later a few other staff members had also been let go, and each of us was simply given the reason “it is just not working out anymore.” To this day I don’t know the exact reason but I speculate finances to be the cause. All I knew at the time was I had no way to provide for my family, many close relationships would never be the same, and the thing I felt God had called me to now had a giant question mark on it.
Maybe this is similar to your story, or maybe it’s completely different but I am sure you can relate to the feelings and emotions I experienced. When you are let go from a church there are some very common thoughts you have, and lies you believe as you process what has happened.
Here are 5 lies I was told when i was let go from a church and had to work hard not to believe.
1. You’re not good enough.
This lie is one that is not whispered, or spoken quietly over and over until you finally hear it—it is SCREAMED. It is blasted on repeat directly into your brain from every direction. The simple fact that the church didn’t want you anymore reinforces this lie over and over again every time you think about it…which is constantly.
The problem with this cleverly crafted lie is that, even if job performance was a factor in your loss of job, your employment status is not where the “I’m not good enough” lie stays. The idea quickly spreads and lodges itself in our view of our worth and value.
But it is not true! Your worth and value is not reflected by your employment status or whether a church decided to keep you or not. Your worth and value is directly assigned to you by Jesus when He was willing to go to a cross for you. You have extreme value and yes, you might have been knocked down, but believing you are not good enough to get back up is a terrible lie. The lie of “you’re not good enough” is one I had to fight constantly and one that I still fight. Don’t believe the lie.
2. God has turned His back on you.
In any painful situation it is very easy to feel abandoned by God, but especially when the pain you are feeling was caused by an institution claiming to operate in the name of God. We sometimes associate the actions of people with the actions of God and believe the lie that He turned His back on us, which is simply not true. Don’t believe the lie.
3. The church is not worth it.
We invest everything in ministry. It’s not ‘just’ a job. Our time, our family, our talents, our money—it’s all invested. This means that when we leave, it all gets burned. It deeply effected everything in my life because ministry is not a just a job, it is a full-on lifestyle. The lie I heard right away was that the church is not worth completely destroying me and my family.
But the truth is, people are messed up and the church is full of messed up people. Yes there is pain that comes from the mess, but the church is the bride of Christ. God thought the church was worth making a plan to reach the world and Jesus thought the church was worth dying for to fulfill that plan. The church is definitely worth it and I am all in. Don’t believe the lie.
4. Anger will make it better.
Obviously you know in your head this is a lie, just like I did, but just like me your heart may believe the lie anyway. I was super angry, and then that anger turned to bitterness, and bitterness started overtaking me. If I’m honest the bitterness still lingers and every so often (like while writing this article) it still rears its ugly head. But anger and bitterness will not make it better, in fact it keeps you in the grip of the situation instead of allowing you to move on.
Hear me: anger is not bad, you will be angry, and that is okay but to stay in that anger will only lead to prolonged suffering. Don’t believe the lie.
5. All churches and all leadership is the same.
Church PTSD is real! I was jumpy at all staff meetings, talks with board members and meetings with my lead pastor for the next 5 years. But something I had to learn is that just because I was hurt from a church in the past does not mean my next church was the same. You can find love and healing from a church and from a supervisor. Don’t believe the lie.
Being let go from a church is awful, and while it may seem as if there is no hope, that is a lie. You can and will recover, but you need to be cautious of the lies you will be told. We at Stoked On Youth Ministry understand the pain and difficulty of being let go and if you would like to talk to one of us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article about lies you’re told when you’re let go from a church originally appeared here.