people over program

Those that know me would describe me as a strategic thinker when it comes to ministry. Everything we do in ministry must have a purpose according to the vision (see earlier blog on ‘why vision?’). There is no point in running a program if it doesn’t contribute to the broader picture of why a ministry exists.

Churches can have the tendency of becoming so top-heavy with programs that people can get lost in the haze of Church busyness. I have seen churches that have several programs for children’s ministry, running nearly every day of the week. Now, I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing; but what it can do is burn volunteer (and staffed!) leaders out to the point the passion gets lost. And when passion dissipates, the ministry ‘one-percenters’ (the small things that matter to newcomers; initiative-taking, going the extra mile with relationships etc) become rarer.

Why is this a problem? Simple. People crave ‘belonging’ above the face-value ministry of having fun. When ministries invest in programs that focus on the surface of inviting people and entertaining them, there can commonly be little energy left for the deeper relationships that are yearned for most.

I think it’s healthy to regularly assess the purpose of programs according to their outcomes of seeing people connected into the wider Church and more importantly, into faith.

How this is done can vary from ministry to ministry, but a good rule of thumb is this; are people coming back aside from the next ‘event’? If not, then it could be time to re-assess.

Here are some thoughts that could help guide the process:

1. Be intentional in the WHY you are running a program; does it align with the ministry’s/church’s vision?
2. Are people getting plugged into the Church?
3. Are people engaging in their faith?
4. Are leaders going the extra mile? If not, why not? Asking these questions one-on-one creates a healthy culture of transparency. Do your leaders know why they are involved?
5. Does this program rob another program of resources and focus?

Start to conversation today; the benefits can be extremely refreshing!

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