Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Too Much Church?

I read an article today entitled, “Is Your Church Stressing People Out?”  It was very good.  The point of the article was that churches typically have so much going on that it pulls families apart instead of together.  With a full menu on the docket for meetings, ministries, and activities, there’s hardly a day of the week that someone in the family isn’t at church… and it’s stressing them out.

Got me to thinking.  Here’s what a typical activity schedule looks like in a typical church today:
  • Participate in Sunday worship
  • Become a member in the church
  • Attend classes to learn more about the Bible
  • Join a small group
  • Serve in a ministry at church
  • Get involved in additional programs and activities (i.e., men, women, married couples, singles, moms, dads, college, recreation, etc)
  • Participate in mission efforts (either locally or globally)
I think that is a fairly accurate list, but you could probably modify it based on your own church.

When churches use this model for ministry, about 20% of the people end up doing most of the work and eventually suffer burnout, while the consumers expect even more.   Being top-heavy with so many programs and activities also means that there is less family time for everyone involved.  And contemporary churches are still struggling to get just 25% of their people involved in small groups.  Finally, we reinforce a consumption mentality when we lead people to believe that they need to be reliant on the church for its programs rather than encouraging people to embrace personal disciplines for spiritual growth.

The negative impact reaches even farther.  Today’s busy pastor has more in common with a YMCA director or business manager than a devout teacher of the Word.  The work of a pastor has changed from praying, calling, studying, reading, and sermon preparation to leadership and managerial duties related to sprawling activities on the church calendar.  And the laity increasingly sees ministers as employed “program managers” or “event planners” or “activity directors” more than prophets of God.

This is going to sound sacrilegious, but I’m wondering what would happen if we eliminated this model for ministry, and in its place only asked our people to invest their time this way:
  • Participate in Sunday worship
  • Read your Bible and pray daily
  • Serve others
  • Make disciples (beginning with your family)
Kind of scary, isn’t it?  There’s a lot of stuff NOT on this list that is usually on the church’s to-do list.  Yet, it’s closer to a Biblical model for ministry than what we practice today.  Plus, it would be more effective because less is more.

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