Say no to ‘free helicopters’

Michael Kellahan

I used to work for a Search and Rescue agency that will remain nameless.

An entrepreneur, who will also remain nameless, offered to give this agency one of his helicopters. It was a very flash helicopter, only a couple of years old, much more expensive than one they could afford to buy, no strings attached with the gift. They said no. Reluctantly, graciously, and carefully - they said no to the free helicopter.

Why? Because the real cost of helicopters is not purchasing but maintaining. They were smart enough to see that accepting this generous offer would actually stop them doing the very search and rescue they were committed to. People and resources would be dragged away from their front line to maintain something that was too costly.

Churches could learn from this. How many times are ministries started because someone wants to give themselves to start it. Its not too long though before they are gone but the ministry continues and needs to be maintained. It even looks like the kind of ministry the church should be doing. But no-one is prepared to make the hard call that this good thing is stopping us doing the main thing we are supposed to be doing.

Have a look through the list of ministries at your church. Which of them should you ditch? Which are just costing too much? And how do you decide which ministries to commit to?

One of the best books I’ve read on this kind of thing is Simple Church by Rainer & Geiger.

They argue that churches do too much stuff, have competing ministries, and lack clear direction. They show a process for doing less and majoring on the most important thing - making disciples of Jesus.

One of the most appealing parts of this book for the small church is that they can realize they don’t need to do everything. We don’t have to compete with the big church down the road and run 101 things.

In fact, for us, it should be a lot simpler to be simple. I’d heartily recommend this book to leaders of churches both large and small.