Five Tasks of Dying

Interim Ministry Workshop, Tuesday-Thursday, March 12–14, 2024, Heritage Christian University, Florence, Alabama

I’m often asked what’s the best way to prepare for a new preacher or a new church.

My answer: Do a good job leaving your former church or saying “Goodbye” to your leaving preacher.

Good beginnings begin with good endings.

The best model I’ve seen is this:

Five Tasks of Dying

I’ve looked for the source of this. The best thing I’ve found is that it’s based on a Hawaiian practice: Hoʻoponopono

I don’t agree with some things in Wikipedia, but I’ve used this outline in saying goodbye several times and have found it helpful.

  1. “Forgive me.” Leaving with good relationships is good for you and the church. Mend any fences, make any apologies, and clarify any misunderstandings that occurred while you were there.
  2. “I forgive you.” Confront any offenses that matter. Do all you can to clear up hurts with people who have hurt you. Assure people who have hurt you and expressed their regret that you will not hold that against them.
  3. “Thank you.” It’s an excellent time to talk about the many things you appreciate — acts of kindness to you and your family, encouragement, the opportunity to work and grow, and the permission to learn from mistakes. I like to mention what I’m going to miss about this church and the people in it. I want to thank them for helping me raise my children if this is a church I served before my children left home.
  4. “I love you.” This needs to be repeated over and over. Some will see your leaving as a sign that you no longer love or like them. Children don’t live in the same house or necessarily live in the same community as their parents all their lives to prove they love their parents. Opportunities come. Without this understanding, you would have crowded conditions by the time you get to great-grandchildren of many children. Without moving, growing, and changing, there would be few promotions, less continued education, and limited missionaries. Things will never be the same after you leave, but you will value, love, and appreciate the relationships you’ve developed.
  5. “Good-bye.” Some will deny that it’s goodbye — but it is. Things won’t be the same. We won’t see each other as often. We won’t talk as often. We won’t enjoy the same things together. We will be living 255 miles from here. It will take 4 hours and 44 minutes to drive. We won’t be able to drop in for popcorn, coke, and a conversation. We have a significant history. We can still have some contact if we choose. But it will be different.

Interim Ministry Workshop, Tuesday-Thursday, March 12–14, 2024, Heritage Christian University, Florence, Alabama

What are some things you’ve seen to help transition a close relationship?

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Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

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