The typical American toy box is filled with miscellaneous Legos, broken action figures, and toys that should’ve been trashed years ago. What 11-year-old boy really needs a glowworm with dead batteries? Yet American children are simply following the example of American adults who would rather spend $1,000’s per year on storage units than to be forced into the discipline of throwing something away. “That Teddy Ruxpin was there for me, never mind I haven’t picked it up in years.” “That was our very first sofa, never mind it’s been sitting in storage for 20 years and wouldn’t sell for free on Craigslist.”
We often keep what we should discard out of simple sentimentality.
American churches are no different than American people. We like our stuff and we’d rather spend more time, money, and resources attempting to keep our collection of memories than move forward through serious evaluation and elimination.
Could sentimentality be leading to the demise of the American church?
Core Principle #8 for Ministry Teamwork is Evaluate & Eliminate.
At Southern Hills our team is as sentimental as any but we must continually remind ourselves that…
1. Less is More
If God is going to have our church add something new to our schedule, we need to remove something old from our schedule. A new ladies event means an old ladies event must be eliminated. A new 3-day conference in September means the 3-day retreat in October must be eliminated. Too many church calendars are so heavily packed with unessential activity that we have lost sight of our main calling. Our frantic busyness has rendered us ineffectual.
2. Kill that Cow!
If it’s not advancing the Mission, Process, or Vision – Kill it! Over the years I have had to take several well-loved ministries out behind the barn and put them to rest. Oh, they were sacred cows indeed, but they just had to go for they were either taking up too much room, consuming too many resources, or had just grown too old.
For example, I’ve had my eye on AWANA for the last 5 years. That is 1 big, juicy, tender cow ready for slaughter! It takes for more volunteers to function properly than many other children’s ministries. It also costs for more to correctly run an AWANA program than most midweek children’s ministries. So, what is stopping me from wielding the ax? Is it that I personally remember being a Cubbie as a 4-year-old boy and still have the song memorized? Is it that I remember learning the truth about Heaven through the Council Time as a Sparky? Is it that the Scriptures I memorized in TNT still come to mind while I preach Sunday’s sermon? Nope! None of these things move me.
Instead, my leadership team continues to make the case that AWANA should NOT be eliminated for it is still advancing our Mission, Process, and Vision. It must continue to do so.
3. When Elimination is Unnecessary Improvement is Essential
So, just because a ministry is safe from elimination doesn’t mean it is safe from evaluation. When it must stay then it must also get better. This is why we have established evaluation meetings with ministry heads and direct supervisors to evaluate recent special events or quarterly ministries. We desire to find the answers to 3 specific questions:
- What went right?
- What went wrong?
- How can we make it better?
As a local church we desire to be effective servants for the Kingdom of Heaven. We must remember that the church is not here to cater to the whims of the congregation but rather to serve the desires of our soon returning King. We will continue to do what we must in order to prepare for His arrival.
(There are 10 Core Principles for ministry teamwork that our church staff has adopted. These 10 have helped our staff through our most excited days and challenging setbacks. I’ve already shared the 1st, 2nd, 3rd , 4th, 5th, 6th , 7th principles in previous posts. Here shared our 8th – which is Evaluate & Eliminate.)