The importance of a good ministry exit strategy

July 15, 2021

The landscape in North Carolina has changed.

The nations are now our neighbors. Almost 1 million North Carolinians (11%) do not speak English at home. Many of these are unreached peoples who have yet to hear the gospel.

Population growth in cities like Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh has outpaced the growth of the church. The result is that we now have areas of our state with inadequate numbers of churches to engage the lost.

Our small towns and communities are seeing culture shifts. Attendance in churches is down and many are struggling to engage their community with the gospel.

The good news is that many of our Baptist churches are meeting these challenges head on. They are working through the problems and looking for effective ways to see the gospel advance.

Is your church already playing a role in seeing our state reached with the gospel? Maybe you are strategizing to engage an unreached people group in your city, working in a partnership to revitalize a church, or preparing to launch a team to start a new church in a pocket of lostness. If so, it’s time to start thinking about an exit strategy.

Advancing with the end in mind
Exit strategies have long been an important component of how missionaries engage peoples, cities and regions with the gospel. Effective exit strategies help with ministry alignment and evaluation, bring clarity in communication, establish healthy boundaries, and create a trajectory and momentum toward multiplying gospel work.

Establishing biblically grounded, well thought through exit strategies is a valuable step in preparing your church for gospel advance in North Carolina.

Developing healthy exit strategies
It is one thing to have an exit strategy. It is another thing to have one that is effective. Here are a few considerations as you begin to think about developing an exit strategy to fit your context:

1. A biblical foundation: Start with a clear understanding of the mission and characteristics of a New Testament church. Then, map out clear objectives for church autonomy. A helpful question to ask is, “What biblically needs to be in place before we exit the work?” One reason churches lose strength, momentum and eventually die is that they do not have a strong biblical foundation. A great resource to consider as you think though the ecclesiological and missiological foundation in your exit strategy is 12 Characteristics of a Healthy Church by the International Mission Board (IMB).

2. A vision for sustainability: A good exit strategy must address sustainability related to areas such as finances, leadership readiness, overall cohesiveness of a body and other practical issues. A key question to ask is, “What practically needs to be in place for this new work to be autonomous and sustainable long term?” With the high failure rate of new church plants in the U.S. (some suggest as high as 70-80%), we need to make sure we don’t exit before the new work is positioned well to stand on its own.

3. A commitment to ongoing relationship: Exiting does not mean abandoning. When the Apostle Paul exited his work, he maintained contact and relationship with local churches. As you think through your exit strategy, ask the question, “What will the ongoing relationship and support look like after we leave?” Think through what ways you will continue to relationally support and encourage the church. Clear expectations regarding the ongoing relationship will go a long way in the flourishing of a new work.

Establishing biblically grounded, well thought through exit strategies is a valuable step in preparing your church for gospel advance in North Carolina. As we begin to think more like missionaries, let’s consider how we can best craft and develop effective exit plans for the work to which God has called us.


by Eric Mullis  
Strategic Focus Team  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

What the Bible says about a pastor’s authority

I’ve heard it said, “The pastor’s job is to preach, marry and bury. Running the church is up to others.” Make no mistake — the primary task of a shepherd is to feed the flock. Paul commanded young Timothy to preach the Word. Preaching sermons on the Lord’s Day and officiating...

15 vital things you can give your pastor

October is pastor appreciation month. As a pastor for 25 years, here are some ideas for things your church can give your pastor:Give him a place.Give him a place where he is free to preach the gospel.Give him a place where he is accepted for who he is, not compared to who he...

Why I’m excited about this year’s Pastors’ Conference

The past year has been difficult. The world we live in today looks quite different than it did just 18 months ago. Many things we were accustomed to doing have either disappeared, been restricted, or have changed, for better or worse. One of the biggest changes was the separation...

The local school: A great place for church ministry

For the most part I really enjoyed school. However, there were some aspects of the time that I enjoyed more than others. I enjoyed the learning, the socialization, and of course, the sports. I found most of the assignments manageable with the exception of writing papers. Sitting...

Ready or not, here they come! Evaluating your church with fresh eyes

Is your church ready for guests who may visit your church after first watching online? Are you ready for members who may return after an extended COVID-19 break? What steps can you take to make a great first impression and reintegrate those who want to reengage with your...

Why personal evangelism is a key ingredient for turnaround churches

Many pastors and churches today are struggling. Pastors are discouraged, and some are leaving the ministry altogether. It’s been estimated that more than 80% of churches are plateaued or declining. Yet, some churches are seeing a turnaround. A fresh wind is blowing. These churches...

Looking forward to being on mission together

In late August, a series of organizational changes were unanimously approved by our state convention’s executive committee aimed at advancing all of us forward as a movement of churches on mission together. We’ve been working toward implementing these changes, and I hope that our...

Fostering and adoption: Why forever matters

“Which one is my mommy now?” I never imagined a child asking someone to point out who their mother was. However, the little blonde-haired girl named Ally, who I was holding that day, had already lived with three different families in the span of 15 months since she and her sister...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay connected by signing up for the N.C. Baptist monthly newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!