Churches are known for their programs. The temptation is to think that the more programs a church has, the more spiritual it is. Furthermore, the sentiment is often that one cannot discontinue a program. After all, God never takes a break! Church
To discontinue a program or take a hiatus is an indication that one doesn't love God. For many people church programs are like government subsidies: once you start it is almost impossible to stop!
Unfortunately, this mindset cripples and hinders and church's effectiveness in several ways:
1. Leaders get burned out. Leaders are people too who need to refuel and regroup. When they are constantly expected to produce, they can slide into mediocrity at best or burnout at worse.
2. Momentum decreases. When a program becomes nothing more than a "have to" issue, people lose excitement.
3. Creativity decreases. This goes along with the leader's slide towards mediocrity. It is especially true if the leader senses a loss of momentum and, consequently, participation.
4. Loss of purpose. After years of a non-stop program, people forget why they have the program. Consequently, there is a loss of priority on the part of the people (and leader too.)
I am sure that there are other reasons, but these are a few that I can think of quickly. What is amazing is the number of people who insist that such programs continue despite the obvious fact that they are dying or dead!
God has given us an obvious lesson in His creation that we too often ignore. Every year most of us experience four distinct seasons: Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall. We look forward to Spring after a long, cold winter. We can't wait until summer because we can get out on the lake or go to the ocean. If it were summer all the time, these things would loose their importance and excitement. Personally, I am glad that God didn't say "Everyone should learn to live in a world where it is winter all the time"!
I have come to believe that it is no different in the church. Programs have cycles-they even have life cycles. When we give our leaders, workers and even attendees a break, the results are rest, revitalization and an opportunity to regroup.
I am sure that some don't think programs should discontinue because they are afraid they will not restart. If one is afraid a program cannot get restarted, then one must ask if the program is even worth having!
I look forward to summer because we slow down at the church. Personally, I need the break. Yes, I still preach on Sunday mornings, but we take a break from our Sunday night programs and most Wednesday night activities. Personally, this allows me to regroup, refocus and rest so that I am prepared to restart again in the fall. I have found that a season of rest and planning can result in a restart with momentum built in. People are ready to get back. Winter is over and summer is here!