Knowing when to end a ministry can be tough, taking the right approach to how to end it can be even more difficult. Starting a new ministry initiative at your church is usually fun, exciting and is often full of new engagement with new people and is typically coupled with momentum.
If your church has been around for a while you’ve probably started some new ministry initiatives over the years. The trouble is, everything you start you need to work to sustain. Then eventually that ministry runs its natural life-cycle and you’ve got to make a decision. Do you kill it or let it die a natural death?
Chances are your church has some “sacred cow” ministries that have been around for a long time, have a great history, have had a great impact in the past, but are on life support now. Does your church need to sacrifice some of these sacred cows?
The Danger Zone
The most dangerous ministry to continue to invest in at your church is a ministry that keeps insiders (people who already know Jesus) happy but doesn’t reach outsiders (new people). These ministries probably still have a lot of people engaged in them and at one point were full of new people and stories of life-change. As the ministry has reached “maturity” now the people engaged in them really enjoy the relationships they’ve built over time. They’re not necessarily bad, they just don’t reach new people. They may not have even started to show decline yet, but you know that they’ve effectually “jumped the shark.” That’s what’s so dangerous. These ministries need careful attention and skill applied to move them back over to the upward slope of the life-cycle or they’ll continue to drift towards decline and eventual death.
It’s possible that your church is still investing heavily in some ministries that aren’t producing many results. If we’re following the plan Jesus laid out for His Church, the results we’re chasing are life-change. However, many churches are still investing resources like staffing, finances, time, communication horsepower, and emotional energy into ministries that are producing little life-change. The book of Proverbs would call that foolishness.
If you’ve got new opportunities to help new people say yes to following Jesus but you can’t fuel those new ministry initiatives because you’re still investing heavily in ministries that aren’t producing much life-change it’s probably time to kill some sacred cows. It’s surprising how often church leaders forget that that pruning is a biblical concept. You can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are personally, so why would we think that our churches can follow Jesus and stay where they are at the same time? Something needs to change.
Kill it OR let it Die?
It takes just as much skill and courage to end a ministry as it does to start one, sometimes even more. When a ministry is nearing its end, you’ve got a decision to make, do you kill it or let it die a natural death. The answer is it depends. Is it a barrier to launching and investing in the new ministry initiative you feel led to begin? Is it creating organizational drag? Are you and your team investing a disproportioned amount of time, money, volunteers, and emotional energy into it? If so, it may be time to kill it. If not, then why create unnecessary pain for yourself and everyone else, just let it die a natural death.
Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation