By Bill Easum

The best practice for someone who is no longer functioning in a position like they should is to let the person go as soon as you make the decision that this is the best thing to do. Waiting always results in that person making a bigger mess when they leave. Do not give notice and then let them stay on for weeks or months. Let them go and pay them for the time that you would have given them a notice.

In other words, the week you tell them is the week they leave. With me, it was the day I made my mind up and told them. Of course, I had worked with them before so that they knew things weren’t going well.

The same is true in business. Once the decision is know, that person is a liability if they stay around.

This does not apply to a long term person who has performed well over the years and may or may not be performing that way now. This person needs time to graciously say good-by.

A few thoughts.

  1. Document justification for firing, including actionable offenses by person being let go.
  2. Document redemptive actions taken by you, church, etc.
  3. Be absolutely sure what your personnel policy manual says and does not say.
  4. Work with and through personnel committee or its equivalent. Gain consensus while recognizing that there will be shock waves no matter how right you may be or how much consensus you gain.
  5. If problem is laziness, poor people skills, lack of production, etc. (things that would provide impetus to terminate at your church but not necessarily disqualify person from future ministry opportunities in a new setting) then look for a way for person to grow and leave (possibly to a new ministry opportunity). Timing is flexible to fit dynamics of your situation.
  6. If problem is something that would disqualify, then look for a way to redeem the person at whatever level is necessary. Connect help with their willingness to participate in the help/redemption/counseling/whatever you have helped to secure.
  7. Protect the reputation of church, those involved, and person by documenting, having more than one person involved at all times, and not gossiping.