I threw away an old pair of running shoes today. That is harder than it sounds. You see, as a runner, I develop a bond with a pair of running shoes. I wear them for around 500 miles. But after that 500 mile mark (or somewhere more or less than 500), they go flat. After they're flat, I can't wear them or they'll hurt my feet. They still look good; they aren't all torn up or scuffed, and their soles still look good, but that doesn't matter.
They still hurt my feet.
Ministry programming is like running shoes. There comes a time in the life of a program when it needs to be retired. It may still "look" or seem like the thing to do, but it's run its course and instead of growing Christ-followers, it has begun to hurt instead. Maybe it was originally an evangelistic outreach, but it's become an exercise navel gazing. Maybe it worked in 1950, but culture has changed since then.
It isn't easy throwing away an old favorite pair of running shoes, especially one that carried me for a marathon. But the truth is, I run better in a new pair. And (how about that?) they come out with new technology that makes the new pair better than the old pair, not just because the old pair is flat, but better than the old pair... when it was new!