Don’t Fear Expiration Dates

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Churches can be guilty of keeping programs in place that have long since passed their expiration date.  After all, churches deal with the eternal.  

But when it comes to programs it’s best not to fear the expiration date.

milk expiration

I use to worry about implementing a program that would eventually become outdated.

It felt wrong to make plans, work a strategy and launch a program thinking “This won’t last.”  But I have come to accept that plans, strategies and programs are like foods, they have a “shelf life”, and its best to keep their expiration date in mind.

3 Reasons to Embrace Expiration:

Welcome Fresh Ideas.  Two years ago I led a team to revamp and relaunch a ministry program from the ground up.

The new program happened through parent/student focus groups, development of young leaders and a re-branding process.  It still has that “new program” smell, but some of the leaders are already pushing “New & Improved” ideas.

That’s great!  Giving my program an expiration date, communicated to these leaders that fresh ideas are desired as current ideas expire.

Create a Culture of Improvement.  By including an expiration date, everyone is agreeing that change is a part of improvement.

That kind of agreement creates a culture of improvement.  For example, when a person proposes change no one holds their breath and waits to see the leaders reaction.  Instead the group is free to express opinions and endorse improvement.

Launch Instead of Perfect.  Many church leaders hold on to an old program because they can’t perfect a new one. [pullquote]I have since realized it is better to pursue an idea that has an expiration date, than to keep looking for one that’s timeless.[/pullquote]

One summer I discovered an innovative ministry approach at an educator’s conference.  I came home and started conversations but they never led to initiations.  The staff was not resistant, but I was hesitant because I wasn’t sure if the new approach would last. My pursuit of perfection caused me to search for a non-perishable program and prevented a launch.

I have since realized it is better to pursue an idea that has an expiration date, than to keep looking for one that’s timeless.  Seth Godin gives book authors the advice, “You’re better off shipping than making it perfect” and that’s good advice for leaders too.

 Join the Conversation:  Is it easy or hard for you to work with expiration dates?

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