Initially reading this title, you might be thinking, “oh, this article must be about how we inadvertently kill ministries or events and this will be a list of things to prevent an untimely death.”

No. This article is about bringing a quick and effective death to your ministry… on purpose. It’s about bringing closure to that event that your church has been doing for decades. It’s about bringing an end to that monthly newsletter, the annual project or the mid-week program.

This summer I read a fascinating article titled, “Your Project Deserves a Good Death” and I immediately thought of all the ministry implications.

I want to encourage you to ask yourself an honest question. What ministry, event or project under your care needs a good death? A true test of your leadership will be your courage to follow through and give it (or them) the death it deserves.

Many years ago, I heard a quote that goes something like this.

Anyone can kill a program that’s failing. It takes leadership to kill a program that’s succeeding. 

I find that one of the biggest challenges in leading an organization is staying focused on a few things that make the biggest difference in the end. Everyone’s going to have really creative ideas of things we “should” be doing. All of us have programs, events or ministry that distract from the central goal or drain resources. One of our greatest responsibilities as leaders is to narrow the focus and eliminate the things that distract or put an end to things that have long since served their purpose.

Christina Xu writes:

No organization is started with the hope that it will become an antiquated behemoth that blocks progress with bureaucratic bloat — they calcify over time. Accepting the possibility of the end means periodically taking a critical look at your work and recognizing when its time has passed. Letting go of a project or an organization returns all of the resources it’s tying up — funding, attention, time, the emotional labor contributed by you and others — to the ecosystem. Whether by you or others, those resources will be recombined into new, surprising forms.

Think about it for a second. What event, program or ministry is it for you?

  • The summer camp you’ve been organizing and putting together for years
  • The annual lock-in
  • The giant harvest carnival
  • The Vacation Bible School
  • The week-long sports camp
  • The mid-week program
  • The Sunday night program

I’m not saying any of these things are right or wrong. I’m just suggesting you ask yourself three questions:

  1. Has it become an “antiquated behemoth?”
  2. Has it’s “time passed?”
  3. Has it become a financial, resource and/or emotional drain?

Maybe a better question is this? If we stopped doing this thing, would it free up resources, time and energy to do something better?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you know what to do. It’s time to pull the plug. It doesn’t necessarily mean you stop doing VBS or your midweek program. It may mean that you completely reinvent the way you do VBS or your midweek program. That’s a decision for you, your team and your leadership to make. However, I encourage you to resist to urge to simply reinvent because “we simply can’t not do a midweek program.”

How to kill the ministry? Well, that’s another post all together. People will get angry. People will leave your church. People in leadership will say “no.” But that’s no reason not to change. More on that in a few days.