CURxE T = Tackle Needs by Ending Ministry Programs.
Article by Bob Whitesel, excerpted from CURE FOR THE COMMON CHURCH: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health (2012), pp. 42-56 (download the chapter below):
Ending Ministry: 3 Guidelines
As noted, some ministries may need to be ended. This is especially important when volunteers need to be redeployed into ministries that better meet the needs of non-churchgoers.
One example comes from a client church. This church had a group of ladies that meet Wednesday afternoons to knit quilts, which they then sold to raise funds for missionaries. The missionaries were appreciative, but the efforts raised little funds. The ladies mostly enjoyed the fellowship and felt they were supporting outreach. A canvas of the community found that many of the two-wage residents needed after school child care. Armed with this information, the leader of the canvass asked the Wednesday knitting group to consider hosting a play and tutor time from 3-5:30 pm once a month (the time during which they typically knitted). Community residents and children so enjoyed these afternoons with their newly adopted “grandmas” (and the senior ladies enjoyed it, too) that this ministry soon replaced the weekly knitting circle.
Still, there are three criteria that must be met when ending ministry and redeploying volunteer skills.
- Guideline 1: Redeploy People. Volunteers involved in a ministry that is ending must clearly see a redeployment for their skills and fellowship. The knitting circle became an afterschool team of surrogate “grandmas.” At first the knitting circle was hesitant, but once they saw that their skills and fellowship would be preserved, they relinquished one ministry to launch another.
- Guideline 2: Move slowly. Most people will need time to process the end of their ministry as well as the value of diverting their skills. One of the key lessons of research into church change is that leaders often doom the change process by proceeding too quickly (i.e. not giving congregants enough time to grapple with the change).[i]
- Guideline 3: ADD if you can’t subtract. If you can’t end it, leave it and add something else. Some people are so wrapped up in their ministry that they cannot envision ever doing anything else. While it might not be the most desirable tactic, if ending a ministry is causing too much division or grief it is best to leave the ministry and launch something new. Many a church leader has become bogged down trying to end something, when that energy might have been better spent launching something new.
Fill in Figure 2.9 to ensure you meet all three guidelines when ending a ministry.
Remember, ending ministry may be the most difficult and thorny task you undertake in growing a church O.U.T. But remember, if ending a ministry becomes too problematic, it is best to begin something new.
To see the Figures and read the rest of the chapter, download the chapter (not for public distribution) by clicking here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CURE Chpt 2 HOW OUT
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[i] For more on why leaders must go slower than they wish when implementing change, see “Go Slowly, Build Consensus and Succeed” in Bob Whitesel, Preparing for Change Reaction: How To Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007), pp. 151-169 and Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change And What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002).