Goodbye, Hello

June 5, 2023

Part of leadership is saying goodbye.

Sometimes those goodbyes are times of celebration, tears that reflect gladness mixed with sorrow, and a deep love for those God called us to lead.

Sometimes those goodbyes are painful. Leaving feels like a painful breakup. The tears are filled with hurt, perhaps even bitterness and anger. 

Whatever circumstances surround the goodbye, leaders do their best to say goodbye well. 

A friend pointed out a couple of weeks ago that part of saying goodbye well is continuing to stay engaged and lead as best as possible. In addition to this bit of sage advice, a few other things are part of saying goodbye well.

  1. Say thank you. There are always people who have walked with us in this leadership journey; we need to acknowledge them.
  2. Work to make the waters sweet for the next leader. Whether we are leaving on a high or a low, there are things we can do to make the waters sweeter for the next leader. We should look for these ways, perhaps with help from others, and work diligently to sweeten the waters.
  3. Pray for wisdom. Leaving is filled with all kinds of emotions and struggles. Pray that God shows you a wise path on how to leave well.
  4. Where appropriate, celebrate. Some of our goodbyes are not marked by celebration. Other goodbyes are a time for celebration. For more introverted than extroverted leaders, remembering to celebrate is essential—if not for you, then for those you’ve led.
  5. If possible, help those staying define reality for the next chapter. Leaders have insights into the good, the bad, and the odd. Use God’s gifts to specify some crucial areas of reality so the next chapter will be better and healthier for those staying.
  6. Really say “goodbye.” Too often, leaders (especially when things have gone well) find it hard to let go. Do what you must to honestly say goodbye and allow things to move forward without you.

As we end this year of Vibrant Leadership Devotionals, it is time for me to say, “Goodbye.” 

Vibrant Congregations, a distinct 501c3 nonprofit and joint endeavor of the CRCNA and RCA, ends on June 30. As both denominations imagine how to engage churches in a renewal process, they are moving toward separate renewal pathways. 

Saying goodbye is never easy, but I am truly thankful for a beautiful 3 1/2 years of serving the RCA and CRC via Vibrant. There are so many words of thanks to be given:  from thanks to the DeVos Foundation for the grant that made Vibrant possible, to wise partners who helped us hone our processes, to congregations that not only engaged with us but gave us thoughtful feedback that made us better. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my incredible partners in this work. Kristin Hoekstra is an administrative guru who made my work easier and handled so many details of Vibrant. Daniel Maat of mStudio built a fantastic web presence and is an outstanding teammate. Kent Esmeier of Framelight Visuals led our video productions with excellence and creativity. 

In this last month of ministry, I am deeply thankful that Vibrant will serve two CRCs and two RCA Congregations. Our last congregational interaction will be on June 28 in upstate New York. Even as we say “goodbye,” I am trying to follow the wisdom of my friend to stay engaged.

The title of this devotional is “Goodbye, Hello.” Leaders know that a “goodbye” often leads to a “hello.” 

In this last month with Vibrant, I am finding pathways to say “hello” to the place(s) God is calling me to engage next. One of the beautiful parts of this new path is that it will keep me engaged with the RCA, CRC, and likely other denominations. There may even be another leadership devotional in the future.

So for now, “Goodbye.” Thanks to all of you for your support, for taking the time to engage in these devotionals, and for many other ways you’ve walked with Vibrant. And soon, “Hello.”


Written by Larry Doornbos

Director of Vibrant Congregations


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  1. Thanks so much for you leadership of Vibrant! You have helped advance God’s Kingdom through the local church in so many ways. We are grateful for your support and partnership with the Center for Church Renewal over the years.

  2. Well-written, but more importantly, well-done. Larry, you have worked tirelessly and with joy. You care deeply about the church of Jesus Christ and long for her to be faithful. Your wisdom and care are obvious. Thank you for your investment in this good and important work. I am honored to be one of your many colleagues and look forward to future “Hello’s”.

  3. Thank you for everything that you have accomplished through Vibrant! Countless lives have been touched for Kingdom work.
    Looking forward to where God leads you next.

  4. Thank you, Larry, for your ministry to us through Vibrant! We are sad to hear you say “goodbye” but look forward to where God will use you next.

  5. Thanks for these good thoughts re leaving behind a labor of love for you, Larry, a labor which has advanced the work of renewal and revitalization in congregations throughout N America. I am especially grateful to you for your support and encouragement of the Healthy Church Discernment Process in our CRC churches. You brought new energy and creative ideas to us as a coaching colleague and partner in church renewal.

    I trust God will continue to provide opportunities for you to partner with churches and fellow coaches in advancing the Christ’s kingdom and mission in the world.

    Peace and all good as you sail off into your new future.

  6. Thanks for your leadership and service to congregations. Your work will be missed! And while I hope the two denominations find ways to replace your services, I believe the model from which you worked and the skills you brought were one-of-kind. Bravo!

  7. I am sorry to hear about this change. It is also unfortunate that both the CRC and RCA could not find a way to continue since 3 years of work has gone into things. We have appreciated what Vibrant Congregations brings to us and appreciate all that has been accomplished. We look forward to what the ‘hello’ will bring our way.