James 1:5 (ESV) says,
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
One area in the church where pastors need wisdom is in evaluating our ministries. It is far too easy to "go through the motions" when we're serving a church and to think that every ministry is doing fine. But, it is wise to evaluate your ministries on a regular basis (at least annually). Today, I'd like to share some ways you can do that effectively.
Pastor Rick Warren has said, "Sacred cows make great hamburger!" Many times, pastors are afraid to make changes in their church's ministries because they don't want to upset people involved in those ministries. But you have to make changes in your church if you want it to grow. And, as you evaluate your ministries, you need to be as objective as possible. You might have a variety of opinions about a particular ministry in your church but your evaluation needs to be objective. People tend to have strong emotions about a ministry they are involved in--such as a ministry they have started or been part of for awhile.
One way to be objective is to form a team of pastors and key volunteers to evaluate your ministries. My suggestion is to take a "no holds barred" approach to each ministry in your church to see if you need to make changes to it or end it entirely. Another way to be objective is to look at attendance. If attendance in a ministry is way down, it might mean that the ministry is no longer effective, you have the wrong person leading that ministry, or both. Being objective will help you evaluate what is going on and what changes you need to make.
The biggest question to ask about a ministry is: "Does it still work?" People vote with their feet and a ministry in your church that worked several years ago might not work today. The fact is that people only have so much time and energy that it is wise to decide if a ministry is helping the overall vision of your church. I once heard of a church that had twenty-one different ministries going on--twenty-one! I'm sure people thought that every single ministry there was essential but you can't be effective if you're doing that much.
If you decide to end a ministry in your church, above all else: be diplomatic. The person leading that ministry is probably passionate about it and will want to keep it going. The reason for their passion might even be personal. For example, at one church I was on staff at, we decided to shift from gender and age-based ministries (men's, women's, singles' ministries) to gender and age-based groups and place them under the umbrella of the groups ministry. I handled that transition so poorly that I almost lost a key volunteer at our church. Present the change as a win, not only for your church but also for the previous ministry leaders. Help them know that they will still be involved in ministry, just in a different capacity. Depending on the people involved, you might want to take these leaders out to coffee or lunch. But never share this type of information through an email because it is prone to be misunderstood. Whatever method you choose, being diplomatic will help you make improvements to your church while also keeping your leaders on board.