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Killin It: How to Stop an Ineffective Ministry

One of the most common mistakes churches make today is trying to do too much. And who can blame them? Churches want to reach people, and churches are willing to try anything to do that.

Even if that anything means Mrs. Martha’s Quilting for Christ group, Joey’s sock puppet ministry, or Larry’s landscaping for the Lord.

These ministries start out innocent enough. Someone comes to you with an idea the Lord has laid on his heart. In their mind, it’s the perfect way to reach more people. I mean, what kind of awful person would tell them no?

Not you, so you say, “Sure. Sounds great. What could it hurt?”

And it works, or at least it’s not a problem, for a while. But then, weeks, months, or even years later, it starts to become an issue.

Now, the quilting ladies aren’t happy that the youth ministry is playing their music so loud on the same night they’re meeting. And Joey is mad at you because you forgot to mention the sock puppet performance during your sermon and no one showed up for it. And Larry died a few years back, and his son is not near the landscaper that he was.

Now you regret that you ever said yes to these ministries in the first place, or you’re mad at the person before you who said yes to them.

But, what can you really do? You don’t want to make anyone mad. So you just learn to cope with it, and the resentment grows.

Or, you can be a leader, and make the hard decision to kill the ministry.

Here are four questions that will help you determine when the time has come.

  1. Is this ministry producing results?
  2. Are the results good enough for the time and energy spent on it?
  3. Is there any way it can be improved to produce better results?
  4. If not, am I willing to live with it?

If you take the time to answer the questions above honestly, you’ll have a really clear idea of what you need to do next. 

If the ministry needs to be killed, that’s going to mean a hard conversation with someone. Here’s where we often chicken out and convince ourselves that it’s not that bad, it’s not really hurting anyone, and any other excuse we can think of.

Avoiding the difficult decisions is the exact reason many churches stay stuck.  Yes, it’s going to be difficult, and awkward, and Mrs. Martha is potentially going to leave the church. But, that’s the kind of decision that has to be made for you to lead a healthy church.

The question is, are you willing to make them?

Have you ever had to kill a ministry? How did you handle it? Leave a comment, and let us know. Also if you struggle to make these types of decisions, pick up Henry Cloud’s book, Necessary Endings.

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