But we also have ministries that have not aged well. They’ve stopped working, but they still cost precious time and energy. They’ve been shoved to the side, but they still take up valuable space. And time. And money.
And no, I’m not talking about ministries that may have just a few people in them. Size has nothing to do with the value of a ministry. It’s about effectiveness.
Healthy small churches relentlessly monitor their schedules to reduce ministry clutter. And the healthiest ones start reducing clutter, not after they find a great new idea, but before.
We need to clear space in the closet first. Only then will we be ready to add something fresh and new.
Start by asking the following hard questions:
- What ministries have ceased to be effective?
- What ministries cost more money, time or energy than they’re worth?
- If we were starting the church today, would we do this?
- What ministries don’t fit the mission or vision of the church?
- Can this ministry be refreshed, or should it be ended?
- What are we doing that we wish we didn’t have to do?
Renew It, Replace It or Say Goodbye to It?
I see three possible options for back-of-the-closet ministries:
1. RENEW IT: Many ministries need a face-lift. Or an extreme makeover. If the foundation of the ministry is solid, it’s meeting a valid need and it has a core of leaders, it may need some TLC to get back on its feet again.
2. REPLACE IT: Some ministries need more than a makeover. They need to make way for something that works. Like replacing the stained, torn, ill-fitting blue shirt in the back of the closet with a new green shirt.
3. SAY GOODBYE TO IT: Some ministries are beyond repair. Their reason for being has ceased to exist. If it’s time to say goodbye to it, we need to make the brave choice to do that.
In all three cases, the people who may still be going through the motions of the ministry deserve to be treated tenderly. Their needs should be heard and validated.
If the ministry can be salvaged, we need to do whatever we can to involve them in the updating or replacement process. If the ministry must be ended, their contributions should be honored. People should never feel belittled in this process.
But we must always remember this hard truth. Not wanting to hurt people’s feelings is never enough of a reason to keep doing an ineffective ministry.