HOW TO BREAK THE BAD NEWS
Whenever you’re announcing a major change in your ministry (especially when you’re discontinuing something, rebooting something, or putting something on hiatus) there are four groups of people you need to consider. Each of these groups will need to hear the same basic message from you—the reason for the change and how you anticipate the change will benefit your church or organization—but they need to be handled individually.
I think of these groups on a grid, showing US and THEM, IN and OUT.
The US and IN folks are the insiders who have helped put this thing together—your key volunteers and leaders. To this group you have to communicate value and, most importantly, that none of their efforts were wasted. Focus on the enduring significance of their contribution.
The US and OUT folks are the people who are part of your larger church or organization. They are more indirectly involved in the thing you are changing, but they still consider themselves stakeholders in the overall effectiveness of your ministry. To this group you have to celebrate the fact that you’re willing to experiment, and also that you’re shrewd enough to realize when each experiment is at an end.
The THEM and IN folks are people who aren’t really part of your ministry but who hang around the periphery—basically, who don’t do much to help. For these folks, the biggest thing you need to communicate is gratitude. We want them to know we’re not running away from them; it’s just that this season has concluded.
The THEM and OUT group consists of those who have kept one eye on what’s happening—the community at large—but they don’t participate. For this group, the biggest thing to focus on is that we’re simply changing gears. It’s not that the whole organization is going belly-up.
I came up with this grid after we made the decision to discontinue services at Grand River Marketplace. After two years of incredibly fruitful ministry, we realized that our season is coming to an end. We are super thankful for the Grand River staff and especially for John Burtka, and we are very thankful to our team of volunteers at Westwinds for all the success the ministry there has experienced.
Of course the US and IN group is our key volunteers—Glenn and Danna, Frankie, Briston, JVo and the music team. The US and OUT group is the larger community at Westwinds. The IN and THEM group is primarily the staff at Grand River and the folks who came to our service at the Brew Cue. The THEM and OUT group is the larger community of Jackson.
Thank you all. We love you very much.