I loved this post by Tim Peters on Is It Time to Take Your Ministry Events to the Slaughterhouse?
Take the pruning sheers to your church event calendar.
When it comes to events, churches need to prune. You need to whittle the event calendar down to the essentials. You need to be smart, selective and strategic in developing your event calendar. Instead of constantly tinkering and trying to fix events, you need to drop events. Pruning hurts, but it’s necessary for growth. We need to be curators, and we need to remove, simplify and streamline.
Church event calendars are like overstuffed restaurant menus. Cheesecake Factory is a great example. You have many options of food you can eat at Cheesecake Factory. Yet every time I dine at Cheesecake Factory, I find myself overwhelmed by the menu. That makes it difficult to make a decision. It’s a prime example of too much of a good thing. And, ultimately, that takes away from the overall experience rather than adding to it.
With church events, it’s a similar scenario. Churches bombard people with events and they become overwhelmed and have no idea what to do. In the same way I have no idea what to order at Cheesecake Factory, people have no idea what church events they should attend or support. Too many options makes the process more difficult. As a result, people may not choose to attend any events. They may even become annoyed or angry at the church.
Acknowledge when it’s time to put an event to bed.
There’s another problem that occurs with church events: When events are not working or getting the desired results anymore, churches tend to throw more money, time and people at them to raise the level of success. They’re trying to revive events, to breathe new life into them. Most of the time, that cannot be done.
An important thing to remember when you’re pruning events: Most events are usually tied to a person who had the idea for the event. Don’t tie your decision-making to a person. Every member of the church is valuable, but you can’t make decisions based on the individual. No one person is larger than the mission and vision of the church.
Here’s an exercise I advocate you do with your church leadership team:
On a big white board, I want you to write down every single event that your church has done over the past year (or will do in the coming year). From small to medium to large, include every single event. Then ask one question for each of those events:
Does this event advance the mission of our church?
If any event does not advance the mission of the church—if it is sucking people dry, causing burnout, and eating up time, money and resources—then it’s time to move the event off the calendar and into the slaughterhouse.
Churches are often so busy, in youth ministry, if we’re not careful we’re often aiming to have young people out three or four evenings a week with some form of bible teaching, a mid-week small group, an open youth club, uniformed organisations, worship groups and more. That isn’t good for the young people or the parents – it causes too much stress – and leads to needing high levels of volunteers.
What do you run currently in your youth ministry, and how do they advance your mission?