The Sadness Of Ministry Closure

When things come to a close it can be a sad time can’t it. When we come back from overseas after a wonderful holiday, when we say good-bye after a lovely dinner with friends, when the inspiring movie could have gone on much longer but had to come to an end.

So it is with ministries.

Last night at a ministry meeting a team of us decided to close a ministry that had been going on at our church for at least three years. Over the past 18 months many of the team members have left and moved on to other things. Some have sadly left the faith altogether, others have simply stopped participating and helping out.

The sense of this team was that it is probably best to lay the ministry down for a season or two due to a number of reasons. And, it is sad. It is sad because it is something that many have put their heart and soul into. It is sad because it is a ministry that was loved by a number of kids and families. It is sad because relationships were strained over the ministry. It is sad because the investment of peoples money and time and effort into something like this brings with it an emotional connection.

But as my pastor, who chaired the meeting, reminded us all of John 12:24, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” So too, our ministries are like the grain and sometimes must fall to the earth, die and can then go on and produce more fruit.

And it is interesting to look at this verse in closer context.

Some Greeks have come to see Jesus, Andrew passes this message on to Peter who then goes and tells Jesus. Jesus’ response to the Greeks coming to see him is that it is now time for him to be glorified. What the…? Then in v24 we see that he is actually talking about his death, that through his death the disciples and the believers will bear much fruit. We see this happen throughout the books of Acts.

But, it is also interesting to see what happens in v25-26. He makes some very challenging statements. v25, Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” And v26, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

What a challenge, we must look to do the things of God, look to do the work of Jesus, look to die and be a sacrifice in this world.

How does this relate to ministries dying?

Well maybe it is the case of having to let them die so that more fruit can come from the wider ministries of the church. And maybe it is also the case of having to re-adjust our focus to Christ and look closely at how we serve him and re-align our ministries with his.

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