During my time (Bill Easum) as a consultant I have been amazed at how often I find declining churches doing ministries that have little to do with their future. Some of these ministries were great ministries in the past; some never had much value to the church or Christianity.
Even though these churches were rapidly declining and the people getting really old, they still spend most of its money on ministries that have nothing to do with their survival.
Here is an email I received not long ago.
< I’m dealing with this particular problem as well. We have a LOGOS program. It’s been in place for eight years. The volunteers are wearing out. It hasn’t reaped the dividends of new membership that they’d expected. Even though it’s a great program it hasn’t helped. After watching the program for six months I see that it’s basically a babysitting service. I am trying to come up with some ways to mine the potential parent pool. Bill, you are right. This is a clear example of ministries not be thought through and prayed through. Just plug it in, maybe it is wonderful, but it doesn’t help parents or the church. >
How about another email example.
< We have a wonderful after school program for kids, that meets Tuesdays from 4-6 pm. Pre-school through fifth grade. About 100 kids. We also have about 30 adults who serve each week to make it happen. Worship, rotating activity stations, followed by a meal where parents are invited to join. Most parents drop their kids off at the start and pick them up at end. It’s a great source of income that we couldn’t survive without. We’ve got to figure out a way to connect the parents from the community.>
Or what about this one – it is priceless.
< I was working in a growing church in the Northeast years ago. They were in need of more Sunday School classes for children. So I went looking through the facilities and found a great room that was large enough for what they needed. So that night I said, “I found a room you can use for the new class. It’s room 101.” You could have heard a pin drop. An elderly lady stood and said, “We can’t use that room. It is where we store our items for our annual rummage sale.” I asked her “How much do you raise each year?” She proudly responded, “$1500. Then I put it in perspective by asking, “Ma’am, how much is the soul of a child worth to you?” They cleaned out the room by the following Sunday. >
So the question before you if your church is declining is – Are you putting most of your time, energy, and money into ministries that will insure your future and the future of the Kingdom?
Why not begin answering the question by making a list of all of the ministries you have at the moment. Then go down the list and ask the following questions:
- How many baptisms, conversions, or new members resulted from this ministry in the last five years?
- How much money does this ministry cost the church each year?
- How many volunteers does it take to keep this ministry going and how easy is it to get them?
- Are there more people in this ministry today than last year?
- If we didn’t do this ministry, would anyone miss it?
- If we didn’t do this ministry, would it make any difference to the future of our church?
If you answered these questions honestly, you would get a good idea of whether or not to keep doing these ministries.
So again I ask, Are you putting most of your time, energy, and money into ministries that will insure your future?
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