When pruning means cutting growth

We started a new ministry two years ago.

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It was popular. It was reasonably well attended.

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But after one year we cut the programme.

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Why? Because although it had grown, our detailed analysis revealed some interesting facts.

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First, although the event had grown its growth was mainly due to people who would have gone to any number of events that were reasonably accessible, reasonably competently run, and populated with people they knew.

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Second, it was an inclusive, welcoming environment, and people of all ages and abilities came and worked together on great projects. However, that highlighted the difficulty of bringing established congregation members into something they perceived as too creative and out of the ordinary.

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Consequently, and third, the church in which this event was hosted never got behind the programme. In other words (or in our words) the event was not renewing the people we wanted to renew.

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So our event was inclusive, and welcoming, and creative, and accessible, and, to an extent, growing. But it was unsustainable. And it was taking a considerable amount of our available leadership resources.

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And so we cut it when it seemed to be in its prime. It was sad, but we needed the resources for something more effective.

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Anyone who’s pruned roses knows the problem. Roses need pruning in the spring to prepare for growth, and then fast growing suckers need to be removed once the growth starts so energy isn’t drained form the main plant, and they need dead-heading, and they need pruning at the end of the season. All this if they are to reach their best.

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In other words, to get a beautiful rose all season the plants need to be pruned surgically and often, from before the beginning until after the end of the growing season.

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The only time roses aren’t pruned is in the winter when everything is dead.

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And that’s probably true of  some churches too.

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