Pruning programs, part II

Creative Commons "Finished Pruning" by Colin Howley is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
Creative Commons “Finished Pruning” by Colin Howley is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

You and your leadership have decided it’s time to prune the list of ministries your congregation offers. Now it’s time for the fun (AHEM) part – actually killing what is sure to be an earnest, devoted church member’s pet project.

Sigh. So how do you rip off the Band-Aid with those for whom this will not be good news?

  • Listen deeply to stories about the ministry’s glory days. This conversation may be uncomfortable, but it is also an opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of the congregation and community.
  • Show sincere gratitude for the ministry’s impact and the time and energy put into it. There was a need for this ministry at some point, or else it never would have been launched.
  • Ask the church members whose claw marks are in the ministry what they want its/their legacy to be. What would best honor the people who have poured so much of themselves into this ministry – to end it with joy and intentionality or to let it limp along until it dies of natural causes?
  • Talk through the importance of letting the ministry go, acknowledging the grief involved. Help the ministry’s proponents come to their own realizations about the potential in reallocating money, time, and person power.
  • Decide together what elements of the ministry it is important to carry forward. One ministry pollinates another.
  • Publicly celebrate the ministry and the people who made it happen. This ministry has helped shape the church and its surroundings. Thanks be to God!
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