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Gotta' Keep It Fresh If You Want Your Ministry to Thrive

A recent report says that the Subway (sandwich franchise) store count fell by more than 900 in the last year. Hundreds of more stores are in danger of closing and up to one-third of the Subway stores in the U.S. could currently be unprofitable. Traffic into the stores has decreased by 25% over the past 5 years. Seems like the store that has prided itself on serving "fresh" sandwiches has gotten tired and stale. Consultant Joel Libava said, "The brand is tired. The employees even look tired." What is causing Subway to currently be in a slump? I believe there are 4 big factors that are contributing to this. And I also believe churches can learn some valuable lessons from what is happening at Subway. You see, all across the country, there are churches that are in decline. Drive by on Sunday and you will see fewer and fewer cars in their parking lot. Go into their children's ministry and you will see few, if any kids. Guests rarely walk in the doors. The baptistry is collecting dust. You enter the church and can sense the depletion of life and energy. Let's look at 4 big reasons this is happening at Subway...and at many churches. Serving stale food. Many Subway franchise owners, say they used to be able to order fresh, local produce daily. But now, produce is delivered once a week. The result - by the end of the week, the lettuce is not fresh. And who wants to be served stale lettuce? No one.

Many churches across the country are presenting the Word of God, which can be "fresh and new each day" in a way that is "stale and tired."

Stale songs that have been sung so many times they are sung with empty, rote obligation. Used, old sermons that have been re-named and re-served without a fresh anointing of God. Tired children's ministry teachers who drone on with teaching styles that were used 50 years ago. Old "Sunday school" classrooms that have the original paint colors from when the building was constructed decades ago. Irrelevant programs that are only perpetuated because of the over-riding desire to not hurt the feelings of a few cranky leaders who've controlled (and helped cause) the staleness for many years. If you want your ministry to thrive, then you have to keep it fresh. This means each year, you take a hard look at the ministry and ask these type questions: