The Dead Horse Award

When is the last time you recognized someone who stopped doing something?

It’s a natural no-brainer to recognize and reward someone who effectively expands ministry efforts – that’s a positive and encouraging sign for others to emulate.

At the same time, it’s also a rewarding practice to acknowledge leaders who ends a program or ministry that is ineffective or not aligned with your church’s mission or strategy. Don’t get caught in “the way we’ve always done it that way” trap. Instead, encourage people to ask whether or not it’s best to continue a particular ministry or program.

Tim Stevens, Executive Pastor at Granger Community Church near South Bend, IN, lists some ministry ideas and programs they have ENDED at Granger:

  • Gen-X weekend services
  • Intensive Bible Studies for students as primary outreach
  • Building committees
  • 8 AM Sunday services
  • Classes as primary adult-discipleship programs
  • Twelve-week membership classes

He stated that some of the above programs or ideas had minimal initial success, but all of them ended up having little impact. That’s not to suggest they won’t work in a different ministry environment, because there are successful examples of all of the above. They just weren’t working for Granger, so they pulled the plug.

As with all major changes, ending an existing program or ministry requires communication, time and prayer, but can definitely pay dividends for your church in the long run.

One side benefit of rewarding people who stop dead programs is that it encourages people to take risks. Your team will soon learn that it’s okay to try out a new approach to see if it will be successful. If it doesn’t work, you can just stop doing it. This helps create a culture in which change is not only tolerated, it’s expected. People will get very creative if they know you’re going to reward their attempts to bring about positive change, whether that change is successful or not.

If you’ve got a “dead horse,” it’s time to dismount.

–          Adapted from “Simply Strategic Stuff,” by Tim Stevens and Tony Morgan

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