The Pope Resigns and Strategic Quitting

For the first time in 600 years, a Pope resigned.

On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI issued a letter of resignation stating, “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.” Click here for the full transcript of his resignation letter.

If the Pope can quit so can you. I am probably not talking about your job; I am definitely talking about ministry programs that aren’t bearing fruit.

Maybe they were fruitful once. Maybe they were fruitful for the guy down the street but never took off in your context. Or, maybe the fruit is dwarfed by the cost. Whatever your reasons for not quitting, let the Pope’s decision inspire you to consider the hidden upside of quitting.

Let’e be honest, nobody likes a quitter and pastors are loath to stop anything that was once done in the name of God. But let’s also keep it real: Jesus gave us a commission to go into all the nations and make disciples. If one of our ministries are using the time, talents, and treasures entrusted to us by God, but not bearing fruit, how will we explain ourselves when we stand before God?

To be clear, I am not advocating reckless abandonment: I am talking about strategic quitting. I propose you consider two economic principals involved in strategic quitting.

1. Sunk costs are the costs that you’ve already put into a project that make it hard to quit. These costs can be complex and dynamic in a ministry setting, but the reality behind sunk costs is that they are, well, sunk–the’re already spent. If the fruit isn’t there, we should consider moving on rather than repeating fruitless activity that continues to burn up more resources that could otherwise be redirected.

2. Opportunity cost counts the cost of an opportunity taken in terms of the value the related opportunity missed. In other words, for every dollar or moment you spend doing one thing, that dollar and moment could have been spent on something else. The value of that something else is the opportunity cost.

Strategic quitting is a part of visionary leadership. The Pope’s decision to resign leads the church forward. He had the maturity to trust his successors and freely yield the reigns of his power. Ultimately, he had the vision to see that a younger and more vital Bishop could be a better fit for the office and that by resigning he could break the calcification of tradition for the sake of his  church and all the Bishops of Rome who will follow him.

Jesus commissions us to makes disciples. Measuring only the success of our strategies (in numbers and dollars) or the busyness of our activities isn’t sufficient. We need to measure the fruitfulness of our ministry and be willing to strategically quit.

What and how can you strategically quit to lead upward? 

FYI…for a five minute podcast on sunk costs and opportunity costs from Marketplace click here.

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Mike Gammill

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If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
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I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
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A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
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