In part one of this series, we looked at how to identify a dying program, and in part two we examined how to breathe life into a dying program if it still had some life left in it. Now we are going to look at how to kill a program once its season has ended.
First, let’s remember what Ecclesiastes 3:1 says;
…there is a season for everything.
In this passage God tells us that nothing we do is intended to last forever. This is difficult for us to accept sometimes because we put our hearts into these programs, and watching them end hurts. As a leader, it is important to remember this because the people involved in the program (volunteers, leaders, participants) are likely to be emotionally attached. It is important to remember that the end of a program is not a reflection on you personally. Our worth comes from Jesus Christ – not the success or failure of a program. There will be things that we can learn from the death of a program, but you can’t let it change your image of who you are.
Now, let’s assume it’s time to end the program, but you aren’t sure how to do it gracefully. This will be easier for some programs than for others. Some programs will just kinda die allowing you to simply walk away. For most, however, you will need a plan.
Begin by talking with your lead Pastor, or the pastor responsible for the program. Let him know your feelings and gain his input on how to best end it. Next, talk to your team. Chances are they already know that the program is dying. Gain their input, and let them know that it is time for the program to end. Finally, talk to the people that the program serves. Ending a program without any warning can leave people with hurt feelings and unmet needs. You may need to work with the people being served by this program to help them find other means to meet this need. Also consider helping the people serving in the program to find new areas to serve.
The final thing is to set a date. If the program takes the summer off, then let it run until summer, and let everyone know that this program will not be back in the fall. For others it will not be that easy. However, it is critical that you set a specific end date and stick to it. Otherwise, an ineffective program may flounder on indefinitely. Once you have set a date, consider having a celebration. We are not celebrating the end of the program, but celebrating the program itself. Think of it as a kind of retirement party for the program. Celebrate what the program has meant to those that have served in it, or been served by it. Celebrate the successes that the program has had. Celebrate the good times and the hard work. I believe that this will help those that are emotionally attached to let go and let the program end well. Finally thank God for what he has done in and through this program.
Identifying dying programs, reviving those that should be revived and ending those that shouldn’t are all critical parts of maintaining a thriving ministry.