ROUND ONE: Cut The Dead Ones
Do you have stuff that’s dead? Maybe it was beautiful and awesome once, but now it’s that brown, wilted part that just looks ugly and distracts from the pretty blooms around it . . . Kill it. Bury it. And move on. Dead things will only corrupt the things around them, and will often pass on the stuff that killed them.
In ministry, this is totally true! Is there stuff that’s just been a drag? An event that once was huge and is now a pain where you go through the motions and no one even shows up? Or maybe it’s that Bible study that just limps along without any purpose any more and seems to be a leaving point for your ministry. Don’t let the sickness spread! Keeping dead programs around will only make everything else stink, too. Just cut it, you’ll feel better.
ROUND TWO: Remove the Has-Beens
Some of the roses that have to get cut are still blooming, but they peaked last week and they will soon be wilted and dead. It’s time to cut ’em, bring them in for a last hurrah in the vase, and then toss them out.
Do you have some aspect of your ministry that is not what it once was? Maybe it needs to be revitalized . . . but maybe it just needs to go. Sometimes we have programs and events that are great for a time and then they go away and we do other stuff. That’s fine! Do that. Get rid of things that are on their way out. Just because it’s been around for a while, doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever. You don’t want it to stick around and die.
ROUND THREE: Trim for Maximum Growth and Health
This is the hardest one. Take an honest, hard, long look at your ministry and all of the programs. Now step back and look at your mission and your values. What is the heartbeat of your church and your ministry’s role within that?
When it comes to roses, some of the pretty flowers need to be cut. The strongest stems need to stay; the straight, solid ones that grow out from the center can grow healthy and strong. They will allow the root of the plant to receive nourishment, and won’t fight among each other for sunlight and room to breathe. Pretty flowers that grow inward and clog the middle have to go. Beautiful roses on weak stems have to be cut. Too many stems will deplete the plant and make it weak.
Back to your programs: Your mission, values, and passions are your center. Everything should grow out from there, reaching first those within the ministry, and then reaching outward into the world around us. Stuff that grows back in upon itself breeds isolation and clogs up the mission with petty things like “my favorite seat” and “I want to be fed this…”; inward thinking is counter-productive to growth.
Some things that are doing well need may need to be cut. Maybe you have two programs that fulfill the same vision. If you cut one, will the other have more room to flourish? If you combine two studies that do the same thing, could you find yourself with twice as many leaders to maximize the impact? Or is there an event that always draws a lot of people, but doesn’t seem to really fit the vision for the ministry? Sometimes it’s OK to have those. But sometimes, if we are bold enough to cut them, we can grow a more purposeful event in its place.
PRUNING ISN’T PERMANENT
Nothing in this world will last forever; not even the changes you make. And as we look at cutting some things and redefining our programs, we can take heart in knowing that things can grow back.
If you cut the wrong thing, you can bring it back later. If you don’t cut enough, there’s always next year. I once cut a camp that our church did on its own in favor of the district winter camp. The district one was great. But so was the one we did on our own. So the next year, it was brought back, and it was stronger than ever.
Pray about pruning some things back. And know that if you get it wrong, there’s always the possibility of regrowth.
What are some tough cuts you’ve had to make? Or are there some things that are standing out that need to go?