I was involved once in a club program that was going really well. We had a club for kids in grades 1-3, for girls in grades 4-6, and for boys in grades 4-6.
The clubs were well planned and purposeful. Kids from the church came and they invited their friends. Kids from the community were coming too. We were building relationships with kids and introducing them to Jesus. It was great!
There was one major problem. As time went on we lost volunteers—lots of volunteers! There were plenty of reasons: job changes, school, other ministry responsibilities, etc, etc. We got to the point where we couldn’t safely or effectively run the program anymore.
So, what did we do? We started praying for wisdom and more volunteers. We also got the word out. We talked with parents and the congregation to let them know of the need for volunteers in our club ministry.
Parents were concerned…they loved the club program and wanted it to continue. However, we ended up losing a few more volunteers.
So, we choose to end the program. It was a hard decision, but it was the right one. We couldn’t effectively run the program with the volunteers we had, so we shut it down.
A year or so later, our church got involved with a breakfast club program at a local school. I was pretty excited. This was outreach! We may not be running an outreach club anymore at the church, but we were involved in outreach through the breakfast club program. We were meeting children in the community and building relationships.
Let me give you permission right now to end a program that is not working in your children’s ministry. It’s okay! It’s not a sign of failure and it’s not a sign that you don’t care about the children in your ministry. Sometimes, it’s a necessity. And sometimes, it’s the necessary start to something better.
1. Consider carefully why you are ending a program
There are many good reasons for ending a program. But keep in mind that sometimes we can be discouraged and begin to doubt the effectiveness of a program. Your discouragement is probably not a good reason to end a program. It is something that needs to be dealt with though.
Here are some reasons to end a program:
- You already have programs that are fulfilling the same purpose.
- You don’t have enough volunteers to effectively run the program.
- You don’t have a leader to run the program.
- The program is not effective.
- There are not enough children attending.
This list is not exhaustive, it’s just a sampling of legitimate reasons to end a program.
Consider carefully why you are ending a program and be able to articulate the reason to those who ask.
2. How to defend your position
People will probably want to know why you are ending a program (especially if it seems to be going well.) It will be easier to defend your position if you have made communication a priority during this program.
Parents and the pastor or elders should already know what’s going on in the program. Why you run it, who’s attending, and its effectiveness.
How do you defend your position to parents? How do you defend your position to the pastor and elders?
Most importantly, people will want to know that you made a carefully considered, prayerful decision. Let them know about the process you used to get to your decision. And let them know what your plans are for the future.
3. Consider the future
Replacement of a program is not always necessary. If you have an effective program for outreach, then you probably don’t need a new one.
Sometimes an alternative is the answer. At the beginning of this article, I talked about a club program we had to shut down because we didn’t have enough volunteers. The idea was good, the purpose was outreach, the kids were having fun, but we didn’t have enough volunteers. One solution could be to shut down that particular club program and find an alternative idea that doesn’t require so many volunteers.
Maybe you are ending a program because you have an idea for something new. That’s okay. Communicate your vision to the pastor and parents. Make sure you have a solid purpose and plan for running the program.
Here’s a program evaluation tool that will be helpful in making the decision to end a program.
Here’s a blog post I wrote about using the program evaluation tool.