Dear Parents of Students,

This evening I shared with your student(s) that I will be resigning as Family Life Pastor at Keystone Church on June 18th.

My decision to resign has been very difficult and unexpected, but has been met with clear calling to a new ministry.

Back at Christmas, Lisa’s parents announced to us that they were planning to move to North Carolina to retire in the near future. Given that we have always remained in Michigan so that our kids can have grandparents close by, we intended to look into possibilities in the specific area that Lisa’s parents are looking to move to. In a short time, and very unexpectedly, God has provided a clear call to a new ministry in a new state.

Often, at times when a leader leaves unexpectedly, people will often ask the question, “What else happened?” I want to be clear that there are no underlying additional reasons on my part. In fact, I have never been so well supported by an amazing Lead Pastor, Executive Director and Leadership Team. I have experienced “family” here as we have laughed and cried together.

While I have wrestled with God on the timeline, God has provided numerous open doors and confirmation on this call to a new ministry at this time. Therefore, to ensure that I have adequate time to handover the essential components of this ministry, I will look to complete my last day on Thursday, June 18th.

I intend to finish well and do all I can to equip leaders to continue the foundation that they as a team have been building. I am excited about the future of the family ministry in this church, and I am confident that great things are ahead. I have never been to a church like Keystone where the vision to encourage and equip families has been so clear. Every leader and volunteer knows and understands the importance to reach the whole family when ministering to kids and students.

Thank you all for the support, love, and appreciation that you have shown to my family and myself as we ministered to families here. We will leave with many fond memories.

In Him,

Phil Bell

Pastor of Family Life

Keystone Church

7 Essentials to Help Students When a Pastor Transitions

The connection between a student and pastor can often be far more than acquaintance,  as many students have experienced a spiritual and emotion connection to a “shepherd” who has been there to help them.

Therefore, in times when a pastor or youth pastor leaves for another ministry, many students can struggle with emotions from sadness, anger, and confusion. However, as a parent there are some key things you can do to help them navigate through a time of transition.

  1. Expect Varied Emotions. Some students will be sad, some will be angry, and some will seem to comprehend and accept the transition quickly. Students tend to react to change and transition with their emotional side of their brain, so don’t be surprised by a varied response.
  2. Listen Well. Since adolescents tend to process emotionally, it’s essential that parents and leaders listen well, even if their response to change seems overly emotional. Therefore, it’s good to avoid giving them solutions too early on. Listening well will encourage them to talk and will ultimately help them to begin to process in greater logical ways.
  3. Help Them to See the Big Picture. When a pastor is called to another ministry, it’s good to help students see that God is the one who is in control. Ultimately, He is the one who will care for them, and He will always surround them with new people who can support and shepherd them. Help your student to avoid seeing a transition as a rejection of them, but rather an affirmation of God’s workings.
  4. Point Them to Others. While a pastor plays a pivotal role, God does not intend any ministry to hang on one individual. The Bible is full of examples of how God provides leaders and shepherds for His people. Remind your student of their small group leaders, their friends, and other adults in their life.
  5. Avoid Assumptions or Gossip. As a parent, stay focused on the facts and avoid assumptions regarding the circumstances of a pastor leaving. So often, when a pastor leaves a thriving ministry, people could easily ask, “What else happened?” It’s possible your student could arrive at the same conclusion, so it’s important to avoid false assumptions and gossip with other parents.
  6. Encourage Questions and Conversation. In order to avoid assumptions and gossip, it’s helpful to encourage students (and other parents), to ask questions to the transitioning pastor and the church leadership. Creating open dialogue is healthy and will help everyone arrive at a place of acceptance quicker, while also building bridges of trust.
  7. Celebrate the Past and Look Forward with Expectation. When a pastor transitions it’s helpful to look back and celebrate all that God has done in the ministry. From here, it’s important to give God the glory and help your student to look forward with expectation for the future. Help them to talk about what makes their youth ministry so unique and exciting.