Most churches I’ve seen are very fertile. They have the ability to birth new programs and ministries with ease. Why? Programmatic birth is fun! Starting new programs can bring groups together, it can give great energy to fledgling ministry. If you’re like me, the creative process makes you come alive especially when you feel as though God is at the forefront of the new movement. What is the church’s threshold for the amount of “babies” she can handle? A great ministry question to discuss is “are we as the local church called to do all things well or a have a specific niche for our people? Personally I think that having a child (planned or unplanned) without discussion, prayer and preparation on how to raise the child is reckless, and I tend to lean the same way when speaking about ministries. I have been guilty of being a fertile programmer who says ” lets see what God does with this one!” While God has blessed some of those, I still don’t think it is the wisest route. Where could you and your ministry practice programmatic birth control or programmatic family planning?
The Funeral:On the flip-side of being programmatically fertile, the church often lacks funerals for ministries and programs that are no longer fruitful. Funerals are needed for that group that reserves the biggest room in the church for the 5 of them who are still left, but this isn’t the only reason. I remember Louie Giglio made a decision to no longer have an event similar to Passion that was rapidly growing in size and popularity. Why did this growing ministry get a funeral? It was no longer in line with what they believed God had called them to be about. Their decision had huge financial implications and yet they followed through.
The Funeral Service: I prefer the term celebration of life. I find it deeply impactful to bring a view involved people around to share what God has done through a certain ministry before we put it to rest. This is a great reminder that ministries are just tools that God can choose to use, they are not holy or spiritual within themselves. For healthy programmatic births to happen, it generally takes a few funerals.
The Lazarus Funeral: My friend and co-worker had a great term today in our staff meeting when we discussed this. He said that a third option was a Lazarus funeral. We invite everyone who is interested to the ministry funeral and if they all believe it should come back to life and it seems to fit the vision of the ministry that God has entrusted to you, then take those grave-clothes off baby and let that ministry live! Sometime the Lazarus funeral can serve as a gut check for those involved and for the church as a whole to support it.
What needs to be born, what needs to have its life celebrated and what might need to be resurrected?