best practices for leadership

When It’s Time to Let Go: Evaluating Ministries and Programs

I canceled Vacation Bible School at my parish. Despite being the Director of Youth Ministry, I also managed our children's team. They worked endless hours prepping the building, motivating volunteers, and creating an incredible experience for elementary-age kids. The problem was that the labor outweighed the fruit. So, with the pastor's blessing, we decided to reallocate our resources toward other efforts. It felt like the right decision at the time, but I probably could have handled it better. The decision was met with mixed feelings—some parents were disappointed, while others understood the necessity.

Key Questions to Consider

How do you know when it's time to end a ministry or program at your parish? I used to rely on three key questions:

  1. Does the labor outweigh the fruit?
  2. Does this ministry compete with a more important initiative?
  3. Is it aligned with our mission and vision as a parish?

These questions help guide our decisions, but we also need to consider two other factors: short-term and long-term impact.

Evaluating Short-Term vs. Long-Term Impact

Sometimes, the labor outweighs the fruit initially. This is common with most startups. When we launch something new, it requires significant effort, and results might not be immediate.

Handling Competing Ministries

If a ministry is competing with another, prioritize the more important one. However, this doesn't always mean eliminating the less critical one. Consider moving its location if space is an issue or changing the day or time if scheduling is a factor. Sometimes, it's easier to address the competition rather than eliminate the ministry itself.

Aligning with Mission and Vision

It's okay if you don't immediately see how a ministry aligns with your parish's mission and vision. However, you shouldn't stay in that unclear situation for too long. If you're unsure about a ministry's purpose, set goals and clarify the desired outcomes.

When It's Time to Let Go

In the end, there will be times when you have to let a ministry go. Every program, ministry, and even position has an expiration date. But before you decide to discontinue it, ensure that your choices make sense and that you're thorough in your evaluation.

Ending a ministry or program is never easy, but it's a necessary part of maintaining a healthy parish. Reflect on your current programs and consider whether they align with your mission and vision.

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To dive deeper into related topics, check out these articles:

Share your experiences or questions in the comments—let’s support each other in making these tough decisions.

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