Stop Doing That!

Many ministries that are highly effective and growing during a given season of a congregation’s life eventually wane significantly.  LeeAnne Watkins, rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (St. Paul, MN), considers how best to respond to these difficult situations in her article in the June 13, 2012 edition of the Christian Century (p.10-11).

In her parish, the once popular adult education offerings and midweek services stopped drawing significant crowds.  Along with a leadership team, she sought to revitalize these opportunities in a number of creative ways.  Eventually, she realized the best decision was to cease offering them.  In doing so, she recalled the wisdom of a mentor who suggested it best to simply stop doing those things that are not working.

So What?
The sound and seemingly simple advice of Watkins’ mentor is often ignored in local congregations.  In Watkins’ case her own views of what church “is supposed to look like” was one of several obstacles she had to overcome in order to reach the end ineffective programs.

  • List any ministries or programs in your congregation that are significantly smaller and less energized than they were at their peak.  Which of these is a candidate for  discontinuation?
  • Has your congregation chosen to end any programs or ministries in the last three years? If so, how were these selected and what process was used to provide an appropriate end for each?

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