The goal of the church is not maintaining ministries. The goal of the church is to reach the lost and disciple them. – Transitioning The Church by Zach Williams.
I’ve often heard it said that “the church is good at answering questions people asked ten years ago.” We develop ministries that work well for a time, then before we know it, the need or the leadership has changed and the ministry is just happening without a reason or passion behind it.
The author of this book calls them “just because” ministries. We talk about them, and we pour money into them, but no one is really sure why we do it. Further, we’re not even sure it’s making a difference or helping us in our mission.
A ministry that once served the vital purpose of reaching out is now happening only because the church feels like it should happen. This ministry is no longer for the unchurched, but for the churched. It’s taking up space in the life of the church that could be filled with something fresh, new, and effective.
There is a difference between maintaining and nurturing. A ministry that is still making a difference and is aligned with the mission of the church needs to be nurtured, tweaked, and cared for. But once we are maintaining, we have crossed from effective to ineffective. Maintenance is not the goal, reaching people is.
All ministries run their course and have a life span. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide our process of knowing which ministries are vital and which ones could be pruned. In this process of pruning and purging, there will be a few people who get upset, but the overall goal needs to be lifted up.
There are two ways to stop a “just because” ministry in your church: 1) Announce that the ministry is officially finished. In this way, you can celebrate what has been good about it, you can celebrate the past, and you can highlight the vision of the church and why we are now focusing our time and money in this way. 2) You can just let something go quietly. We stop supporting, organizing, and helping something to keep going for no reason.
There are many examples of things in our own church – like the annual Sausage Supper, which was a big deal for years. One year, no one stepped up to lead it and it died. Never heard another word about it. One more Saturday free to do something more effective in the kingdom.
Remember, maintenance is not the goal, reaching people is. Make sure your ministries are helping with your goal, not becoming an end to themselves.