After three years of having a part time paid worship leader position at our church (and assisting for many more before that), my wife and I feel (and God has confirmed) that it's time to call it quits. After this time, we still run into the hymns vs. choruses (or contemporary worship) problem, music style preference, 'solos' and special music requests (or lack thereof), skits vs. cantatas vs. small service vs. etc. for special events, you get the idea, but that isn't why we're stopping. We have just given birth to a child (to be fair, my wife did the high majority of the work) and between taking care of our daughter, my wife's school and my work (all very time consuming and her school and my work having conflicting schedules), we feel that God has given us the green light to withdraw from the worship leader position at our church. Honestly, we've been so 'busy' with the things above and crazy schedules, we have started to miss out on family time and, more important, God time. So we're going back to where God wants us. There's much more to this but that's the basic of it.
We still feel like God wants us at the church we're at and we are still willing to lend our services to whoever takes our place, should they need/ask for it, but we feel that we aren't able to lead the ministry anymore. We aren't 'white knuckling' this position, in fact, it is one we would love for someone else to step in and do better than we have thus-far. So battling for the 'head position' between us and them shouldn't be a problem. Our communication with our pastor is overly redundant so he knows of the full details behind this situation and that we've been praying about it for a few months now. So breaking the news to him won't come as a surprise. But as far as notifying the elders of our church, the stewardship committee, worship team, congregation as a whole, etc. what steps would you suggest we take in stepping out, and how would it be suggested that we could do it and let others know that we're not just straight out quitting? For those who have been in my and my wife's shoes where we are now, what have you done that went well and what have you done that hindered the process? I know this may beg for more questions regarding the hearts of the church congregation and I do welcome those questions. If you ask, I'll respond as soon as I can. Thank you all and have a wonderful new year!
Well, if it works for you, you might consider staying until Easter, or at least being willing to do so if they don't find a new leader by then. Announce it now, but once Easter is over, that might be a good transition time. And do what you can to help the church get a search underway soon, rather than letting them wait until Palm Sunday to start looking :-) If the money isn't a big deal, consider maybe even going on "volunteer" status once the announcement is made.
You said, "We still feel like God wants us at the church we're at and we are still willing to lend our services to whoever takes our place," but when the new person comes on board, if you find yourself being critical, thinking the new leader doesn't know what they're doing, constantly stifling the urge to explain "why we do things the way we do them" - don't rule out the possibility of maybe going to another church, for a while, at least. Or finding something else to do during the worship hour - volunteer to be in the nursery during church (or if they don't have one, start one!!). Leave all your materials in good order for the new person to use, but don't get frustrated when they don't.
Since your pastor is somewhat expecting this, they can be a big help in terms of announcing this, communicating with committees (of course, the worship team should hear this directly from you, first). It sounds like you have good personal reasons for moving on, as opposed to resentments and problems with specific people that you would rather keep hidden :-) Move while that's still true :-)
Good luck, hope it all works out!
I feel for you! Take your time reading the responses. I don't think I was on much in first few weeks.
As a new dad (Kristin was born 10/28/2010) I ran into the same thing you did. I wasn't paid but I was leading a worship team and heavily involved with the ministry. I've run into so many things over the years that my pastor said to me when I told him I needed time off that he always thought I'd quit a long time ago with everything I had to put up with.
First things first, try to get some sleep. I think we all make better decisions on healthy sleep. That never happens with a newborn. (Is this your first? It was mine... and with all the warnings I still underestimated what it took to raise a child.)
It seems like forever, I've always tried to get others to step and take over the team so I could get more time to shore-up other parts of the ministry. I always believed having an exit strategy/succession plan was prudent stewardship. However, it was only till I bluntly told them I'm leaving and actually left (communicated long time ago, but only executed 2 weeks before my DD was born) that people finally did set-up. Ironically for all their fears, they succeeded. They didn't do it my way, but they still did it...
The pastor at the church I went to in University once said to me that he doesn't force people into ministry. After seeing the revolving door of talent come in and out every 4/5 years he's lead that church, God will provide for what he thinks is important. God had never let him down all the years. So I've learned that it's not all on my shoulders. That part of the guilt is now gone. God is greater than me and if he wants something to live on, he'll do it.
Being a parent is the most wonderful things in the world. Being a dad is stressful, but being a mom is 10x worse. I've learned being a true father is supporting them both. I can't breast feed, but I can change diapers, rock my daughter to sleep in the middle of the night when she cries and care and nurture my wife. Note: DD is also finding new ways of always teaching me patience, as she just peed on me when I change her. ;)
If I've learned nothing else in this experience is that sometimes you need to step back. A lot of anger, fustration and angst about other stepping up and not doing the right things are starting to fade. The further I am, and the more time I spent with my DD, the more perspective I'm getting. Being a father has definitely changed me. When I do go back, I think I'll be a changed man. Maybe that's what God wants for you too.
#1) Keep it simple. Fight the temptation to explain every aspect as fully as you would like to, as it only makes it worse. I've learned this over the years from being both in the church and in local politics. The more rope you give, the more they can hang you with!
I say this because although you say there are no real issues, you have none-the-less named a whole raft of them. So obviously they are on your mind (and as a worship leader, they should be). Just don't let those things come out when it's time to step down.
So prepare a statement (folks, with the new baby and our life situation right now, we just need to step back for a while) and stick with it.
#2) Don't feel guilty. Even Jesus made his disciples take time off. Given your situation, it sounds like your overdue for a break.
#3) Make a real effort to keep your hands off. Got a new baby? Guess what's coming: learning to let go when they get older. This is a hard thing to do, but the folks who take over when you step down need the freedom to do their own thing, make their own mistakes, and grow in the process. Sure, be around to give advice when asked, but be very careful not to convey any hint that things aren't being done right, "the way I would have done that..." sort of thing.
Some great advice from Charles and Wayne, too. May God give you peace as you make this step.
This last year my wife and I resigned the church we'd been called to fifteen years ago, under basically good circumstances. We were overstaffed, and with a dynamic new youth pastor the church was rapidly picking up people who could create excellent worship services, and I was becoming an expensive figurehead, trying to figure out what to do to justify my job. There were some tense moments, real close to blowing up; but we restrained that nonsense in favor of leaving so graciously that many people in the congregation thought that we were merely retiring, not actually going to church somewhere else! It went well -- and you asked what we did, so I'll try to venture a few of the things we did:
1. We took complete ownership of our resignation. We did it of our own free will (an unhappy predecessor had pressured the board to fire him, then filed for and got unemployment comp! Cut the lifeboats, as Paul said). We simply said, "We believe that God wants us to do a radically different kind of ministry." Many of the folks knew I needed income -- they helped put a roof on my house -- but when I spoke that simple sentence, they believed me, and didn't ask for juicy details.
2. We treated people the same after our announcement as before, and after we left, still the same. We've dropped in on services, and it's like still being there, except not playing the keyboard. Pastor's called for a few musical favors, which I did gladly, not expecting remuneration.
3. I've kept the sum of our farewell gift a deep secret, never to be compared good or bad with anything.
3. On Facebook, I join in the good comments on good stuff that happens at my old church, and share good things from the new church, but never "neener-neener."
4. I happen to pass by my old church on the way to the new one (everything goes along a state highway here). I consciously ask the Lord to bless the people, and I am glad to see lots of cars in the parking lot.
There was a time when I thought it would be impossible to maintain a good attitude consistently, to not let it leak; but the people were so gracious and good to us, I could never hurt them, especially those who unknowingly lead to our departure.
Now, Seraphim, you're planning to remain with the Body; but I hope you'll find some principles here that may apply to your own situation -- and I pray that it will go well with you -- and if and when the time comes to return to being a "pastor" or "minister" or "chief musician", the time in between will be remembered as valuable to you and helpful to your present congregation.