This Ministry is No Longer Supported
Rev. Debra Griffis-Woodberry, Pinnacle Associate
Recently I received an alert that the subscription for the security system for my computer would expire in 30 days. Later in a news report, I read that support is ending soon for two popular operating systems. They are obsolete. I am relieved that I do not have those particular systems so, I don’t have to worry about it. However, I best renew my subscription to Norton. I was being advised that security and support are vital in the computer world. I was curious. Who decides about all of these matters of what is obsolete and what is to be supported or not? So, I googled the question and learned, “The life cycle begins when the product is released and ends when it is no longer supported.” I wonder is there any wisdom in that statement for those of us trying to be and do church today?
Most of us church types live in the polarity of knowing that church is much more than an institution. We know that Church is the body of Christ, the Kingdom of God seeking expression now and later. Church is about making disciples of Jesus Christ. Yet we find ourselves operating with programs, services, classes, events, etc. that are difficult to maintain as they are hardly supported. Churches and denominations spend many dollars and much energy and time attempting to support a “product” that was released yesteryear. The reality now is that the way we did church yesterday often is not effective, the way we are being church today becomes obsolete rapidly, and tomorrow is our near future. It is a dilemma for church leadership because we spend so much energy maintaining the product. How do we dare announce that a particular way of doing church will no longer be supported?
Some folks simply have a new start. New groups of people form and engage in being the church of today, relevant and meaningful especially to younger people. Having been a pastor of a new church start in the late 1980s, I know the exciting mindset of building the sidewalk where people are walking rather than following a predetermined path. I have also experienced ministry with older congregations where the sidewalks are already built and often in need of repair.
Many of today’s authors and speakers declare that we are in the early phase of living into a new era of church. It is more than a new program or emphasis. It is a fundamental shift toward a new way. As we create this new era in established churches it is difficult to announce that a particular ministry, program, class or service is no longer supported. I offer the following hopefully helpful things to consider.
Is this ministry relevant today? Is the ministry connected to one or more of the church’s core values, rule of life or goals? What are the demographics of those who attend?
Who currently leads this ministry? If clergy, is it merely a duty of the office? If it is laity or clergy, is the work fulfilling or a burden?
What has to be in place for this ministry to happen? Who sets up/breaks down the room? Does the temperature in the building have to be adjusted hours before the event?
Are there sufficient funds available to sustain this ministry?
Is it worth the investment of time, energy and money?
Is this a ministry where all are welcome?
If the life cycle of a ministry is over, acknowledge the grief some may feel, celebrate the good work of the past, and look for where the Spirit is birthing a new thing.