Following a good discussion on evangelism last week and the prompting of my friend Matt, this week’s question builds from where we left off.

Do church programs help or hurt efforts to promote godliness in our everyday lives?

I posed this question at the end of last week’s discussion in regards to evangelism. To take it a little further, I want to apply it to many other areas. Do programs help or hurt our efforts to promote healthy time in the Word, prayer, meditation on Scripture, evangelism, and service in our everyday lives? This is a wide open question so feel free to be as thorough as you like. And as always, be sure to support your claim.

4 Replies to “The Monday Muse: Church Programs

  1. This purposefully vague question leaves room to argue on both sides. The answer is Yes and No – as they say, it’s a double-edged sword.

    Let me say this about church programs: I think they are most effective in the corporate, group setting of the church… for instance, we’re good at getting people together to study the Bible, or do service projects, or pray together, or worship together.

    What we’re not as good at is transferring those programs to A) our personal lives and B) our evangelical lives. Church leaders can create as many programs as they like, but a person has to make a personal commitment to allow that to affect their life outside of the church, and strive after daily prayer and meditation. It also takes personal motivation to share the gospel outside of the corporate setting.

    That to say, we have some strengths as a group… but we have the potential to be much stronger individually if we all didn’t rely so much on the group to do the work for us.

  2. You catch on quick Young Skywalker. I think it is a little more interesting when a question is broad enough to require wrestling with both sides of the argument. I can’t say this enough but I believe that balance is the key with most things (not necessarily all things).

    I agree that programs can be both good and bad. So what defines a program as “good” or even “bad”? I think the answer would vary depending on the person you asked. I think that most programs have good intentions unless they are focused on mimicking the “success” of another. However, I think that a lot of programs have unintended consequences that go by without discussion or notice. Take for instance evangelism programs. The idea of a church evangelism program is to mobilize members to get out and share the gospel. Sounds good. We throw a big rally, create door-to-door campaigns (not fond of that word), and begin marketing to our city or community. Again, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with these things. But what often happens? I have seen so many people begin to rely on these moments to fulfill their commitment to evengelism for the year. Does it always happen or even have to happen? Certainly not. But this scenario is all too familiar. People begin to see evangelism as something accomplished through a program in a church and forget that it is a lifestyle and a part of our identity. Out of a passion for Christ comes a passion for people which leads to loving and sharing Christ with people. The program addresses the result and not the root of the problem.

    I think your last line is excellent. There is certainly strength and encouragement in numbers. But we must desire God individually as well and thus build up a love and passion for proclaiming Christ to people in our spheres of influence. I could go on but I think this is enough for one comment.

  3. @ Jeff – Regarding evangelism again… the words you used are typical of how an American church generally supports an evangelism program – marketing, campaign, rally – and I think in general the way we go about evangelism is a huge turn off to those we’re trying to reach. I’m not calling you out here – you said you didn’t like the words either – I’m calling out the church.

    If I’m buying shampoo, I expect to be marketed to… But faith is not shampoo, and the worldview by which you live your life is not something to be consumed in a 30 second advertisement.

    Frankly, I think we’ve got evangelism all wrong. As a church we’ve been reduced allowing Geico teach us how to share the Word of God. We need a radical change in perspective on this topic.

  4. I completely agree. I cannot stand the influence that capitalism has had on the church. Too many pastors and leaders have been sucked into the church as big business. Not all of them are trying to make big bucks off of the church. However, many of them run their churches exactly like a big corporation so that if you looked at a business structure and church structure side by side, you would see little difference. I think that is sad. I think it is a bad case of reductionism. It reduces the church to a market where products are consumed but a life is not cultivated.

    I think one of the biggest problems in evangelism is the disconnect between our proclamation and our living. We say we care about people. We say we want to love them. So we go out in mass and track bomb our community (to use a Matt Chandler term). We do this a couple of times a year but it seems to be some of the only interaction we have with our community. What does that say? It says we are only interested in people accepting this message. Certainly we want people to give their lives to Christ but the missing piece is service and works. If we interact with our community through acts of love and mercy, it supports the message we are trying to proclaim. It gives people a fuller picture of the gospel and shows people that we truly believe what we proclaim. But that takes time…maybe years. And in our get rich quick society, pastors have months to “produce results.” Sad.

What Do You Think?