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Dan-Reiland-Pastor-CoachI recently spent a couple thousand dollars cutting down and stump-grinding nine trees that I spent hundreds of dollars planting 10 years ago. Seems dumb, I know. But sometimes, that’s what it takes.

Perhaps you’ve seen these trees—they are called Cryptomeria.  They grow extremely fast and easily reach 35 to 40 feet and more with a 20-foot spread at the bottom. They are similar to the Leyland Cypress but typically seem to grow larger, more lush, and are deeper green in color.

They are beautiful. I just didn’t know they would take over. What was a handsome looking treeline became the monster that threatened to take down the fence, rob the lawn of sun, attack the deck and house all kinds of unknown critters that made strange noises in the night. When they waved in the wind, it was if they were laughing at me. Not so funny was the day they went into the wood chipper!

I suppose I could have planned better by planting something that didn’t get that big, but I didn’t know. This happens not only in life and landscaping, but also in leadership and ministry. We just don’t know. Things that we plant, water, nurture and grow must be taken down for a fresh new start or at least severely pruned. But we often merely prune ministry due to fear or politics when we really need a fresh start.

A few years back, that happened at 12Stone Church. We were using a process for discipleship that grew so large, we had to take it apart and shut it down. Please note that I said that the process got so large, not the results. It was actually the process that took over and consumed all our time and attention. The machine took over the mission. All our effort and energy were in running the machine with very little life change at the other end.

It didn’t start that way. It started beautiful and brilliant. Everyone admired the process. It was good, and it worked. In fact, the church grew from 1,500 to 3,000 in attendance during that season. The results were greater than the effort expended. Just like those fast growing trees, it was great!

But then the process took over and began to defeat the purpose. Like those gorgeous Cryptomeria that once provided shade and beauty, they simply took over the back yard.

How about your church? Are there any trees that need to come down? You know what I mean. Do you have any ministries that were once strong, beautiful and productive that now require far more work and maintenance than they produce results?

It might seem crazy at first, but it may be time for the wood chipper.


Dan Reiland is executive pastor of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., listed in Outreach magazine as the No. 1 fastest-growing church in America in 2010. He has worked closely with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY. His semi-monthly e-newsletter, The Pastor’s Coach, is distributed to more than 40,000 subscribers. Dan is the author of Amplified Leadership, released in January 2012.

For the original article, visit danreiland.com.

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