I was listening to the Freakonomics podcast while on a bike ride on Sunday, and one of the hosts casually mentioned that “everything has a cost. Nothing is truly free”.
That probably would have gone in one ear and out the other, except that I’ve been reading Simple Church, which is all about creating a simple path of discipleship in your church. One of the points in Simple Church is that many vibrant churches streamline their efforts to insure that all their energy goes into their vital discipleship programs. This means they tend to choose not to pursue good – but not vital – ministries.
Something I’ve learned over the past four years is that people often want to bring ministry opportunities to the church. They’re great ministries, and the the people who bring the opportunities will almost always promise that their ideas don’t come with much work attached to it.
When that happens to me, I’ve learned to pause and ask myself two questions. First, “how does this fit into the larger picture of our ministry?”. Second, “what will this actually cost in time, energy, resources and airtime?”. The first questions is crucial, but the answer to the second question can take time to figure out.
The truth is that every change does cost something. It may be tangible, like money or materials, or it may be time. Oftentimes the largest cost is focus, because new projects take a larger slice of your mental energy as well as the airtime needed to introduce them to your church.
Saying “no” is hard. It’s easy to tell yourself that a change will be easy, smooth or cheap. Remember that every idea should be vetted with its true cost in mind. Only when you can see what changes will really cost can you decide whether it’s worth it. If so, go for it!