How to Fire Someone Gracefully


Firing someone is almost never easy, especially if the termination is performance based. Depending on how long the employee has worked for you, it could be one of the hardest and most dreaded parts of your job as a church leader. We want to help you in this process and give you a few pointers from the collective experience and wisdom of our team members.

Awareness is key.

Short of a moral failure that merits immediate action, your employees should have an opportunity to improve. Their dismissal should not come as a surprise to them. Put in place performance reports and make an improvement plan so that they know that you genuinely desire for them to improve. Be in communication with your church staff, evaluate their gifting, knowing that maybe a lack of performance might be because their current role is not the best fit for them.

Clearly communicate your expectations for them through a thorough job description and regular reviews. Keep records of their performance, so that when it does come time to let someone go for performance based reasons, you can be protected legally following that decision.

We have posted a few articles on effective church staff reviews to help you get started: 

 6 Steps to an Effective Church Staff Review
• Church Staff Review Tips from
• Should Your Church Staff Have 360 Reviews?

Help them along the way.

The last thing that you want to do as a church leader is to let someone go because of performance based issues and leave them out to dry. Make sure that your church has an infrastructure to deal with dismissals. Give that former employee support by helping them doctor their resume, put together references, and help them make connections to ease the transition.

Make sure that there is a severance plan for that employee, because they need to be able to feed their families between jobs. Have a lawyer present or retained by your church to deal with documents such as separation agreements.

You might not be responsible for their reaction.

As the bearer of bad news, you may feel a tremendous amount of weight and anxiety because of the termination. You can only control how you break the news to them. Some people might react with a threat to take legal action, while others might try and take the guilt-trip approach with you.

As a church leader, it is critical for you to protect the church as a whole from the aftermath that could ensue from this employee’s termination. Make sure that you consult your church's lawyer, and if necessary, hire a firm like Vanderbloemen for consulting to minimize the red tape and potential complications that ensue from the termination. Vanderbloemen has consulted many churches through difficult hiring and firing situations to ensure a smooth staffing transition as possible. 

What systems does your church have in place to conduct church staff accountability and smooth termination plans?