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Cancel, Create, Cultivate

2014 is upon us.

In the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, I asked some of our Church Executive readers what changes they would make to improve how they do church. Specifically, I asked them to name the programs or activities that they would create, cancel, or take to the next level starting this year.

Our readers are proactive leaders and strategic thinkers. Many of them don’t wait for the New Year to roll in to evaluate their progress and effectiveness.

One response summed it all: “We assess our ministry programs as often as necessary.”

Still, they let me in on their plans for 2014 and beyond.

Out and in. A multisite church in Illinois that provides ministry for a lot of different  people groups will likely knock off its in-person training program and replace it with online classes. The church app will be discontinued to give way to a new website that will be more smartphone-friendly. Also, the half-day summer VBS will be no more. Instead, the church will create a new all-summer kids full-day camp to provide needed day care for the community, as well as opportunities for children and families to hear the Gospel.

In California, two churches face big decisions. One church considers formally starting a college-age/young adult ministry; the other one is in the throes of losing its ministry to the elderly.

And, because of financial constraints, a Kansas church might discontinue some of its ministries, and has no plans to add any new programs in 2014.

Beef it up. One Tennessee church that’s also home to two ethnic congregations is pursuing generational diversity more intentionally. Both congregations hold their own worship services in their native languages, as many of the adult members don’t speak English. One of the congregations has merged its children and youth, who can speak English, into the main church’s Sunday school and youth ministry.

Generational diversity is not accomplished by merely having a place for every age group, according to its executive pastor who believes “until they are blending, we are not successful.”

Also, this church will take its focus up a notch by becoming less departmental and more constituent and cause-oriented. This translates into having more ground-level troops and fewer high-altitude key leaders, according to the executive pastor. “Fewer generals and more sergeants — with the sergeants having more freedom to do what they’re really good at doing,” he adds.

Back to the Illinois church I mentioned above, this multi-campus congregation is embarking on a building campaign to raise its annual budget so that each of the campuses can “take their facilities to the next level” and allow the church to build seed money for a fifth campus.

One California church will boost the discipleship focus of its small groups, and will bring in a children’s pastor “with the right experience and leadership to take the ministry to the next level.”

Similarly, our Kansas church says it needs to fortify its children’s ministry. In addition, this 50-year-old church is bent to increase the impact of its ministry to college-age and 30-something groups as it prepares to hand the church over to the next generation.

Bring it home. As for me and my church, we definitely need to work on our prayer life, both personally and corporately. Plans and ministries can go flat when there’s no strong spiritual power to back them up.

How about you? What worked for you in 2013, and what didn’t? How do you plan to leverage your wins to build more strength in 2014 and beyond?

— Rez Gopez-Sindac, Executive EditorRez_Gopez-Sindac

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