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Leaving a church gracefully letter

Have you ever felt like you’ve experienced enough at a church to know if it’s the right place for you? Most of us have. We understand the importance of making wise choices when choosing a church. It’s not uncommon to want to test out new churches to see if they might be a better fit. That’s okay! Sometimes there are things that keep us from leaving or make it difficult. I’m providing this sample ‘leaving a church gracefully letter’ to help those who may not be able to leave on their own.

Many Christians want an apology when they leave their church. Leaving a church gracefully is something that you need to do in a polite way. You will be criticizing your church leaders by leaving with out any explanation, so you need to be very gentle in dealing with the situation. Here is a sample letter that you can use when leaving your church.

Right here on Churchgists, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on how to resign as a pastor, resigning from a church board, associate pastor resignation letter, and so much more. Take out time to visit our Website for more information on similar topics.

As much as we need to learn about worship in our churches, lately it seems we’re taught a lot about how to sing but not so much about how treat fellow Christians after worship. I’m going to attempt to shed light on the sometimes hard topic of how to leave a church gracefully and how to receive those who leave your church or position in the congregation.

Dear [name],

I am writing to you today to inform you that I will be leaving the church. This decision is not an easy one for me, but I feel it is best for me at this time in my life.

I appreciate all of your efforts and hard work as a pastor. You have provided me with guidance and wisdom throughout my time here, and I will always remember them fondly.

Thank you for everything you have done for me, and please know that I wish all the best for your ministry.

Dear [name],

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I know it’s time to move on.

I have been a member of [church name] for over seven years. It has been an incredible journey, full of friendship and growth, and I could not have made it without all of you.

There are many reasons why I am choosing to leave the church, but ultimately it comes down to my own personal growth and development. As humans, we are always growing and changing—and as such, we need to surround ourselves with people who can help us grow in positive ways. As much as I love being a part of this community and have enjoyed everything it has offered me, there are some things that are no longer serving my growth as a person or helping me reach my full potential.

I will miss being part of this community very much. Thank you so much for all that you have done for me over the years! It has meant so much to me.

Leaving a church gracefully letter


When you leave a church, it’s important to do so in a respectful way. Leaving a church gracefully means that you can later return if you change your mind. Even if you’re unlikely to ever return, leaving a church gracefully is a matter of respect and consideration for the people who are still members of the congregation. A graceful exit requires you to express your gratitude for the positive aspects of your experience with the church and explain your reasons without going into too much detail or sounding bitter about leaving.

The letter should be short and to the point.

Keep the letter short and to the point. Don’t make your reader feel like they’re reading an essay, a list of grievances or even a formal letter of resignation.

You should also avoid being defensive about your decision to leave. You have every right to feel as though you’re leaving with good reason, but it’s important that you recognize there is always another side to every story—even when it comes to religion. Remember that many people in your church will be hurt by this news and may not understand why you are leaving at this time. It’s easy for them to get defensive and defensive responses can lead down dark paths that do not benefit either party involved (you or the church).

Don’t include any personal information that you don’t want shared in any way shape or form. This includes information about where else you might be going (if applicable).

Write the letter as soon as you can after making the decision to leave the church.

Now that you’ve made the decision to leave the church, it’s important to write them a letter communicating your decision as soon as possible. It’s best not to wait until you feel pressured or angered by a situation at church—otherwise, it will be more likely that your tone will reflect this anger in your letter. You don’t want to end up with something that might be interpreted as inappropriate or offensive by anyone else at the church either; writing it when you’re calm will help ensure that this doesn’t happen.

The letter should be addressed to your pastor or other church leadership.

  • Address the letter directly to your pastor or other church leadership. If you don’t know their name, address it to “Church Leadership” instead.

If you don’t know the name of the pastor, but do know their position in the church (for example, “Pastor of Education”), use that title instead. (or if this isn’t obvious in your situation)

  • It’s likely that many people will read your letter – including other members of your faith community and even local media outlets who might be interested in covering such an event because it’s newsworthy or controversial – so be sure not to include any information which could be potentially harmful or embarrassing for others.*

Be specific about your reason for leaving the church.

Letters that are vague about why the writer is leaving the church make it difficult for a pastor to help. This can be especially problematic if the person was involved in ministry at your church, as it is important to hear what went wrong so that future issues can be avoided.

Include specific details about what you do not like about the current structure so that others can identify and address these issues.

You may also want to include any changes you would like to see implemented in order for yourself or others who may follow in your footsteps.

Avoid crafting a long list of complaints about the church when writing the letter.

The best way to leave a church gracefully is to avoid crafting a long list of complaints about the church when writing the letter. This approach can leave the impression that you’re bitter, accusatory, arrogant and rude.

Instead, be positive in your parting words. Show your gratitude for the time spent at this particular congregation and its members’ efforts to serve God and others with you over the years. Your pastor or other leaders may have been responsible for some of these good experiences; let them know how much their input has meant to you.

Close with a positive remark about your experience with the church, if possible.

Try to close with a positive remark about your experience with the church, if possible. It’s okay not to have anything nice to say, but if you do have something positive, use it as your closing line.

If you feel comfortable sharing what does happen after you leave, that’s great too! You could say something like:

  • I’m hoping to find another place where I can participate more actively in my own spiritual growth and development.
  • I want people from my old congregation to know how much their support meant for me over the years.

Leaving a church gracefully is important because it comes down to respect, especially if you want to be welcomed back one day.

Gracefully leaving a church is important for many reasons. If you are going to be on the receiving end of a church’s hospitality in the future, it would be thoughtful to leave them with good memories and no hard feelings. It is also important because your exit will have an effect on other people at your former congregation and even people who have never met you. Finally, leaving gracefully can help ensure that relationships remain positive as well as protect against misunderstandings or misrepresentations of what happened between you and others in the group.


When you leave a church, the best way to do so gracefully is by writing a letter. The letter should be addressed to your pastor or other church leadership and should be relatively short and to the point. If possible, try to include one positive remark about your experience with the church in the closing of the letter. While it may not seem like much, this small gesture can go a long way towards maintaining good relations with your former house of worship. Remember that leaving a church is never an easy decision, but it becomes much easier if you take care to do so gracefully.

how to resign as a pastor

church resignation letter is a formal written notice announcing the intention to leave a position with a religious organization. It is usually addressed to a pastor or other church leader. This letter should cover logistics, but it can also offer an opportunity to share sentiments and express well-wishes to the wider congregation.

What to Include

Like any resignation announcement, this letter should provide some context and relay key details. It should include:

  • The intended date of departure.
  • The reason for departure.
  • Plans for the transition period, both before and (if appropriate) after the transition.

How to Resign from Your Church

1. Request meeting with the pastor

It is best to speak face-to-face, so either ask in person or send an email about scheduling a meeting. You may share the reason for this meeting in the initial email, or else hold off until you sit down together.

2. Disclose details about resignation

Bring a printed letter along to the meeting and go over the plans for the departure. It is best to leave no stone unturned. Though it may be emotional, discussion of an upcoming resignation should address dates and other details.

3. Return all church’s belongings

Make sure to return everything before departing. This can be a challenge for long-term employees, but churches frequently face financial constraints and rely on the thrift and good faith of their staff.

4. Hand in formal resignation letter

Do not forget to sign this letter by hand before submitting it, and keep an extra copy with personal records.

How to Write a Church Resignation Letter

Your letter should consist of a header, an introduction, a paragraph or two to form the body, and a conclusion which includes a valediction. The letter can easily be sent by email or mail, however, a personally delivered notice is generally considered the most professional means to submit your resignation.


The header should simply state the date followed by the contact details of the individual to whom the letter is addressed. Look to our example below for more information.

Example Header

January 2, 2017

Mike Bloomdale
The New Lutheran Church
123 Market Street
Detroit, MI 48002
(555) 555-5555

Dear Pastor Bloomdale,


The introduction paragraph will be used to inform your superior of your intent to leave the church (or other religious group). You will also want to specify the last possible date you’re able to work. In addition to that, you can give a brief statement explaining your decision to leave.

Example Introduction 

This letter is meant to serve as an official notice of my resignation as Youth Pastor of The New Lutheran Church, effective January 16, 2017. This decision has been a difficult one, though I truly believe that this is what’s best for myself and my family.


In the body of the resignation letter, you’ll want to further explain the reason for your resignation. This should be done in a positive way as you don’t want to leave on unfavorable terms which could easily result in a bad reference. It’s not exactly a requirement to mention the personal or emotional state which has lead to your decision to leave although, depending on your circumstances, you could explain your reasoning as long as the overall tone of the letter remains positive.

Example Body

Currently, my wife Sandy has an opportunity to pursue a new and exciting career in fashion which, as you know, has been her dream since she finished her design program in Paris. While my position at the Church has filled my heart with a sense of purpose and belonging, it would be unfitting for me let her pass on this rare opportunity. Therefore, we have decided to move our family to Capital City.

I would like to thank you for all the support you and Linda have given us over the last few years. My transition into the Youth Pastor position wasn’t easy, and you two were always there to lift me up and keep my head above water. I will always be grateful for your guidance.


Your conclusion should reiterate your previous thoughts and leave the reader with an overall sense of positivity. Remember, a good personal reference is crucial when looking for a new position elsewhere, so be sure to not bring up any sentiments which might leave your superior with a sense of bitterness towards your departure.

resigning from a church board

To help you write your church resignation letter, consider the following template:

Dear [recipient’s name],

I regret to inform you that I am resigning from my position as [position title] with [church name], effective [date].

I have given much thought and consideration to my decision. While I have enjoyed my time at [church name], I believe this is the right step for me given [reason for leaving]. I appreciate your continued support and all the times you prayed with me over making the right decision. Your encouragement is greatly appreciated.

My time at [church name] has been full of growth, learning and understanding. I will miss [things you’ll miss from the church] the most. I’ll forever be grateful for this congregation and the warm welcome I felt when I first joined the church.

Thanks again for your support during this time. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance during this transition.

Peace be with you,

[Full name]


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