An “Exit Interview” can be a useful tool in the process of a pastoral transition, both for the pastor and the congregation.
Objectives of an Exit Interview
- To provide closure both for the pastor and for the S/PPRC.
- To help both pastor and congregation understand what has happened.
- To help each understand how each has contributed to the dynamics present.
- To assist a congregation to see possible ways to deal differently with a new pastor. To assist a pastor to see possible ways to deal differently with a new congregation.
Some things to remember:
- An exit interview is not intended to be a gripe session!
- An exit interview helps make real the fact that a change will be taking place.
- Open, non-defensive exchanges around agreed upon topics can lead to new insights for both pastor and lay people.
Who might participate?
- The Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committee.
- A representative cross section of members of the church and community. Individual interviews.
- Individual interviews with a third party observer.
Barriers to the usefulness of an “Exit Interview”
- Conflicted situations
- Lack of trust
- Represents a radically different style of relating.
How might the interview proceed?
- Develop agreement on participants, topics and setting for the interview.
- Develop an understanding of how this information will be used, and by whom.
- If no interview is scheduled, state as clearly as possible the reasons for not having an “Exit Interview.
Sample topics for discussion during an “Exit Interview”
1. The experience of ministry.
Pastor: This is how it has been for me in ministry here.
Laity: This is how it has been for me/us in ministry while you were here with us.
2. Hopes and dreams
Pastor: I had hoped…. and….
Laity: I/We had hoped…. and….
3. Efforts made
Pastor: I attempted to…. And this, I thought, worked…. But this didn’t.
Laity: My/Our experiences of these actions were….
4. Choices made
Pastor: I chose, or did not choose to….
Laity: I/We saw these choices as….
5. Feelings experienced
Pastor: There have been times when I felt….
Laity: There have been times when I/we felt…. 6. What still needs to be done?
Image Credit: Some rights reserved by Ben McLeod, some modifications made.
Adapted By Gail Grossman from Pastoral Transitions, by Bud Phillips.