Thursday, November 16, 2017

Don't Wait Until It is Too Late to Change

I arrived at the meeting early. I wanted time to collect my thoughts and to pray. I knew it was possible the meeting would go poorly, as the subject to be discussed was a very challenging one. The group was deciding if it was time for their ministry to come to an end.

I wish I could say I've only been in one or two such meetings, but in my role as a denominational leader, I've been in many of them. Sometimes the situation could be managed and was turned around in positive ways. Most often, the group had waited too long to change.

Many churches and ministry organizations across our nation are struggling to survive. There are many reasons for this struggle, but most often it happens because somewhere along the way the group declined to make the changes that were needed to remain vibrant. Because of the deep commitment level that most Christians have toward their church and other related ministries, a small group can keep a ministry going long after the ministry's peak effectiveness has passed. But they enter into a period of long slow decline, often expending greater and greater energy but seeing less and less results. They hope something will change, even though they do everything possible to keep change from happening. What they often look for is a young vibrant leader who will enthusiastically lead them to remain exactly the same. Rarely does that plan work and even when it does, it often only temporarily delays the inevitable. 

When churches, or other ministry organizations are in decline, but refuse to change, the rate of decline often accelerates at the same time that the number of viable options for change are reduced. Though there are many points along the way when they could have made the decision to change, those points become farther and father apart and the options available to them become fewer and fewer. There finally comes a point when nothing can be done to reverse the decline and closure is inevitable. That is always a sad point to arrive at for those who are left to clean up what little remains. 

How do we avoid seeing a once vibrant ministry end? The key is to change early enough in the process to actually improve the situation while there is still energy and resources available for an effective shift in direction. This requires leaders who are brave enough to do something different. This requires leaders willing to release control. Most of all, this requires leaders who are willing to ask Christ, the Master and Savior of All, to help them re-envision what it means to follow Him and help them return to their first love. When that happens, change comes quickly. It is not without pain or a sense of loss. But it is a necessary part of the process and will produce amazing results.


While many churches and other ministries are unable to make the shift, those that do experience a glorious rebirth. Churches can be revived. Ministries can refocus. But it will look different than it did in the past. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, if we are brave enough to try something different.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:



Friday, November 10, 2017

Be Prepared for Ministry Opportunities

One of the saddest stories in the New Testament is found in Matthew 25:1-13. That story relates how ten virgins were waiting for the bridegroom to come so they could enjoy an amazing wedding feast. Five of those virgins had brought extra oil so that no matter when the bridegroom came, they would be ready to join in the festivities. The other five had not make preparations and instead were just hoping everything would work out in their favor. If you recall, the hour grew late, and when the bridegroom finally came, the five unprepared virgins had to run off to the store to buy more oil, while those who were prepared were able to enter into the party and join in the celebration. When the unprepared ladies finally returned, the door of opportunity was closed. They did not get to join in the festivities.
The reason I find this story sad is because all ten of the ladies knew the bridegroom was coming. They knew this was going to happen eventually, even though they did not know the exact moment. Clearly all ten had the ability and the resources to be prepared. All ten had lamps. All ten had some oil and the money to buy more. But only half of them actually took the time and energy to make adequate preparations so that no matter when the bridegroom came, they would be ready. The rest were unprepared, and once the opportunity passed, there was no way for the ones who were not prepared to get it back.
When I think of crisis type ministries like disaster relief or similar crisis type situations, this story comes to mind. It is not a question of IF a disaster or crisis will come, but WHEN. Sometimes disasters are spaced out over a long period of time. During those periods of calmness, it is easy to get complacent and relax in our preparations. But other times disasters come in groups, like the three hurricanes that recently hit the United States and its territory Puerto Rico, followed by the mass shooting in a mall and then a church. We know disasters are going to happen, even if we don’t know when. The only way to be adequately ready to respond is to already be prepared in advance. That is why training, in advance, is important. That is why having funding set aside and dedicated to crisis management is important. Otherwise the disaster comes and is gone before we have time to mobilize and finance the relief effort.
I am thankful that for people, and ministries like that have maintained a constant state of readiness. When the hurricanes hit, they were ready to go. When a mass shooting happened, they had trained trauma chaplains ready to respond. Regretfully, many Christians missed the chance to respond because they were not ready. But now is our chance to change that. The situations in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico are ongoing. So let’s get trained now so we can go. Another disaster or crisis will happen, and if we want to join in the relief efforts, we must be ready. Let’s be prepared so that we do not miss our opportunity to touch lives in the name of Christ when a disaster strikes.
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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at: