13 Key Questions to Ask Before You Let Someone Go

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Recently I helped facilitate a pastor’s roundtable discussion, in which staffing issues were discussed. When it came to the painful subject of having to release staff, Greg Hochhalter of Sherwood Park Alliance Church referenced a very practical tool. Below is an article written by Matt Boda, District Superintendent of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Pacific Northwest.

It’s a privilege to be able to pass it along to you.

people talking

Listed below are a number of questions designed to help you think through whether it is time to ask someone in your supervision to step down. I would encourage you to read through them and see what they surface in terms of how you answer. There are no “right” answers to these questions – in other words, there is no one way you need to answer each of them in order to be able to move ahead with releasing someone. Instead, these questions are designed to help you think more clearly about the issues one faces when letting someone go…

  1. Have we provided this person with clear expectations in writing that will help them succeed?
  2. Have we provided this person with a consistent means of direction, supervision and accountability as a part of their experience on your team?
  3. Have we followed due process in working through issues that have arisen? In other words, do we know both sides of the story and give sufficient information on what needs to change and the time to accomplish those changes?
  4. Have I acted in a redemptive manner? Have I or someone else had a fierce, fair and honest conversation, face to face with this person to help them understand the issues at hand and the seriousness of this season? Is there anything you have not shared with this person as to why you are letting them go? Why?
  5. Are the issues we are facing with this person related to character, chemistry or competence? Are we able to document that?
  6. Is there substance to the issues we are facing with this person? Can their termination be justified in light of the issues they are facing? Is this decision in keeping with the degree of shortcomings or severity of charges?
  7. Can we say that we have done our best to help this person succeed in their role?
  8. Is this decision and the process by which you arrived at it in keeping with the expressed values of your church family either written or unwritten?
  9. Is the timing right for the individual and the church?
  10. If you were asked to provide a one-sentence rationale for why you let this person go, what would you say? Are you satisfied with your answer? Does it ring true?
  11. Will others be willing to accept your answer and justification? If not, what would be their concerns? Is there any substance to their concerns?
  12. Is this a “me” or a “we” decision? Are other wise people involved in this decision? Is there a meeting of the minds among our leadership related to this termination? If I took myself out of this decision and allowed others to make it independently of me, would they make the same decision?
  13. Do I sense God is honored by how we are handling this?

Contributed by Matt Boda

the author

Scott Cochrane


  1. Thanks Heather. Letting staff go, especially on a church staff, is always very difficult. There are dynamics at play that just don’t show up in the marketplace. (eg, family connections throughout the congregcation, etc) In ministry we have to get this stuff right.

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