25 Ways to Ride a Dead Horse
Many variations of “How to Ride a Dead Horse” have appeared, especially on the internet, and I don’t know who the original author is. We’ve rewritten and adapted this slightly for churches, but every organization (whether it’s business, government, educational institutions, etc.) can have a tendency to hold on to old forms long after their effectiveness has diminished or ceased entirely.
The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians—passed on from generation to generation—says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
Modern churches, however, have found a whole range of far more advanced strategies to use, such as:
1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Declaring, “God told us to ride this horse.”
4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
5. Threatening the horse with termination.
6. Proclaiming, “This is the way we’ve always ridden this horse.”
7. Develop a training session to improve our riding ability.
8. Reminding ourselves that other churches ride this same kind of horse.
9. Determining that riders who don’t stay on dead horses are lazy, lack drive, and have no ambition—then replacing them.
10. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
11. Reclassifying the horse as “living-impaired.”
12. Hiring an outside consultant to advise on how to better ride the horse.
13. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase the speed.
14. Confessing boldy, “This horse is not dead, but alive!”
15. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
16. Riding the dead horse “outside the box.”
17. Get the horse a Web site.
18. Killing all the other horses so the dead one doesn’t stand out.
19. Taking a positive outlook—pronouncing that the dead horse doesn’t have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the church’s budget than do some other horses.
20. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
21. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
22. Name the dead horse, “paradigm shift” and keep riding it.
23. Riding the dead horse “smarter, not harder.”
24. Stating that other horses reflect compromise, and are not from God.
25. Remembering all the good times you had while riding that horse.