Ecclesiastes 3 states that there is a time for everything. There is a time to live and a time to die.
Some church programs need to die….but we won’t let them.
In fact, many times people realize that the program/event has died, but we do our best to keep them alive.
These are Zombie Programs. They are dead, but somehow we’ve kept them alive.
Almost every church has at least one. Most churches have several programs like this.
Why don’t we just cancel them?
Because people will complain, cause trouble, and hurt the church. We realize there is a cost to killing zombie programs.
Is their a cost to keeping them alive? Are they hurting anything?
The Cost of Zombie Programs
Discouraging staff – Every church that I’ve been involved with has had this staff meeting/retreat: Staff member wants to stop doing a program that isn’t working. The staff talks about it, then talks about it more, and finally decides not to do anything about the issue. The cost is too great. We will let it ‘die of natural causes’. However if you could push the pause button on this meeting you would see that a huge cost is being paid. Look at the body language of the staffers involved in the issue. Do they look defeated? They know they will have to keep giving energy, time, and money toward something that isn’t working. They know the other staff and pastors aren’t going to support them in this area that they feel strongly about. This will hurt their excitement for the church, their job, and the ministry.
The people that could come – If we keep a program alive just for those that are demanding it, we are missing the people in our community that would come to something that is alive, exciting, and working. Those people aren’t coming because we spend energy, time, and money on things that aren’t working instead of investing our resources in other ways.
The people that gave up – It isn’t just your staff that gets discouraged in keeping a zombie program going. It is those passionate followers of Jesus who realize that you are only keeping something going for complainers in the church. Zombie programs kill off quality leaders who want to see the church reach and disciple people for Jesus.
Time and money – Everything at a church cost time and money. The church bulletin cost time and money. The AWANA program cost time and money. The student ministry worship service cost time and money. If something isn’t working, stop it, and invest that time and money into those programs that need it.
Obviously there is a cost to ending ‘sacred cow’ programs as well. I think people understand that cost without considering the cost of keeping them. You’ve got to consider it all.
I’d rather lead, make changes, and try to reach our community for Jesus than keep things going that aren’t working just because that is what we’ve always done.