Friday, September 2, 2011

Finishing Well, the Door to What's Next

Sometimes it is time to be done...

This is a picture of the final space shuttle launch. I'm old enough to remember the first ground-breaking launch of a space vehicle that would be reusable and the new concept that it would make multiple trips, now two decades later NASA is retiring the fleet of shuttles and opting for another means of accomplishing their mission, and I applaud them.

Too often we in the church do not know when it is time to end things well. We continue to poor time, resources, and energy into programs and ministries that have served their purpose and whose time has passed. We need to understand the difference between finishing well and quitting; to realize that endings can lead to new beginnings; and we need to move boldly forward, risking mistakes, rather than cling to faltering methods and ministries and expect improved results from failing efforts.

We need to know when its time to be done. There is a difference between finishing well and quitting. Quitting usually involve a failure of commitment to the mission and task. I am a proponent of persistence, of not quitting. However, there are times when a ministry or program has lived its course and needs to be celebrated for its accomplishments and allowed to end well. Like people, churches go through seasons where effort should be poured into certain areas and not others. As those seasons change, the resources need to be reallocated and the mission energy redirected to have the greatest evangelistic and missional impact. Sometimes the end leads to a new beginning.

We need to realize that endings lead to new beginnings. The scripture affirms that in order for a field of wheat to grow, some grains must fall to the earth and die. That is the natural course of life. When a ministry or program ends it does not discount the value that it held previously, it is simply the natural course of its missional life. Usually form this ending another opportunity can arise, another ministry developed, and another mission begun. Freeing up missional energy and resources will allow for a fresh perspective to arise to the current need rather than falsely hoping for a return to past success from a failing ministry. That will allow us to move forward.

We need to move boldly forward. Failure is inevitable, growth is optional. So what if we try a new program or ministry and it fails, we know what is not working right now. It doesn't mean it won't work in the future, it just means that now is not the time or this is not the place. The key is to move forward boldly, experiment, discern, and strive to see what God wants you to do and be. Great steps of faith have always required bold, forward movement. Once we have allowed a ministry or program to end well, then we can move boldly forward to discover what's next.

The Space Shuttle may have landed for the last time, but NASA is busy getting ready for what's next. Shouldn't we do the same with the most important message in the universe? I remain:

Consumed by the Call,

PS. More about finishing well and giving away your legacy to sow seeds for the future here.

Tony Morgan has more about letting go of traditions and ending things well here.

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