When many church buildings were forced to close in early 2020, church leaders faced both an unexpected burden and an unparalleled opportunity.

The pandemic caused a quick shift to online-only ministry for most and brought a unique chance to re-evaluate everything.

Absolutely everything.

Rethinking the way the church building is used and consider expanding its use in ways that bring in more income for the church.

Giving leaders space to assess the church’s operations and be honest about what was working and what wasn’t.

Reviewing staff or volunteer roles and responsibilities, some of which have changed drastically because of the pandemic.

And there’s one more opportunity that churches shouldn’t miss: the chance to reexamine every ministry you offer.

There’s a joke making rounds on the internet about how replying, “In a pandemic?” to every request is an easy way to get out of things these days.

But jokes aside, this season is a rare time of constant change that churches can use to refine their list of ministries.

The “we’ve always done it this way” excuse has proven futile in 2020 where it worked in previous years. It worked to keep some ministry departments going when they haven’t worked for years.

And some of the ministries (and their events and volunteer roles) need to be seen in a new light. This year and all of its changes can be that “new light.”

Every ministry doesn’t have to come back post-COVID lockdowns. Most likely, there are some in your church that definitely shouldn’t come back. Here’s why.

#1 – It’s not on-mission.

Your church’s purpose hasn’t changed, but perhaps the specific actions you plan to take in service to it changed. 

If the church has changed direction, it’s worth asking: Is every ministry headed in that direction?

The mission should answer: What specifically do we want to see God do in our church in this next season?

Reach a certain number of people through online efforts?

Create 5 new volunteer roles in a mission-specific department?

Start a new ministry based on needs that arose during the pandemic?

Each ministry should play a part.

For example, a new, major part of your mission is to start 10 virtual small groups that anyone in your community can participate in. But there’s a snail mail marketing ministry that not only hasn’t shown any results or piqued interest in years but is also pulling away from the same volunteers you’d need to serve in creating the new groups. It may be time to revamp the mailing ministry and consider whether those efforts would be more useful elsewhere.

No matter your mission or new objectives, continuing to pour resources into ministry departments that aren’t on-mission will be detrimental to pursuing that mission effectively.

Check out The Senior Pastor’s Guide to Reaching More People for practical and actionable ideas for reaching more people inside and outside of your church.

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#2 – It’s not necessary. 

The COVID-19 pandemic made many people more aware of what’s most important in life.

It can also make churches realize which ministries are really necessary.

Some ministries hang around for years while not helping the church reach the community or work towards the mission, as mentioned above. For example, a few reasons and ineffective ministry might overstay are:

  • Someone’s great-grandmother started it decades ago and a few people have an emotional tie to it.
  • It began as a way to reach a particular goal and continued after the goal was reached.
  • It was established based on an assumed need, not facts, and hasn’t made a positive difference (some churches have shuttered their mobile apps for this reason).

If your church has a ministry area that doesn’t fill a true need and barely anyone would miss it, now is a great time to reevaluate. Make a list of every ministry in your church and review their purpose. Which ones are the most important? Which serve the church’s mission the best?

In the Church Fuel program, we call these Keystone Ministries. There are resources and training videos in our Rebound Course that help with repurposing ministries post-COVID and an entire section of the Building Your Ministry Plan Course that digs deep into discovering and investing in your church’s Keystone Ministries.

#3 – It’s not a wise use of resources.

It takes many resources (of money, time, and people) to make ministries run smoothly. But not every ministry is worthy of the church’s resources. Or they might need some resources, but not all of them.

Not because they’ve never been important or weren’t started with good intentions, but because they’re not the best place to steward resources right now.

When considering whether to bring back a ministry, ask:

  • Is this ministry taking resources from other ministries that can use them more effectively?
  • Are there finances and volunteers in this ministry that we need for other ministries that are a better fit for where the church is headed in the future?
  • Can this ministry be combined with another one? Can these volunteers easily shift to another area?

Getting to know your community in a deeper way can help. Once you know the needs your people are facing, you’ll have a better understanding of which ministries don’t need to come back or which new ones to start.

Don’t waste this time. Use it to reflect and return to semi-normal ministry life with a clearer strategy for every ministry department in your church.

Take the Next Step

Ready to bring clarity, alignment, and focus to your ministry? Start by creating a Two Page Plan® for your church using the training resources in the Building Your Ministry Plan course.

Building Your Ministry Plan is an insanely practical course to guide you and/or your team through the process of creating a two-page “business plan” for your ministry. The course will guide you through what to put in each box of the Two Page Plan®, show you examples from other churches, and help you use your plan in real-world ministry settings.