Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Five Reason Church Calendars Get Out of Control and What To Do About It

When churches gets too busy it really does become like a hamster wheel, where everyone needs to pitch in to keep the wheel turning.  There are programs that need to be staffed, departments to be funded, teaching times to coordinate, building-usage schedules, activities to attend, and meetings to conduct.  Some churches have something going on virtually every day of the week and most week nights.

At some point it becomes exhausting and people accept activity in the place of relationship because it seems to be expected of them.

So why do churches fill up the schedule and work people to the point of exhaustion?  We add programs, activities, and ministries because we think we must.  Consequently, we fall into the trap of busyness.

Here are five reasons why churches fall into this trap:

1.  The expectations of people coming from other churches.  People from other churches have certain expectations of what it means to “do church.”  They evaluate a new church based on whether or not it offers their favorite ministry.  If enough people express this expectation, then the leadership feels the pressure to provide that ministry.

2.  The program fad.  Church strategists tell us that this or that program will draw in un-churched people and promote growth.  The experts sometimes promote a program that is intended to attract a different demographic than currently attends.  Remember the fad of adding a “contemporary” worship service to attract younger people?

3.  The desire to be spiritual.  If I am doing church work, then it means I’m a spiritual person, right?  We can fool ourselves into believing that we are important and indispensable to God by working ourselves to death by trying to accomplish in the flesh what God can simply speak into existence.

4.  The need to be needed.  We can fall into the trap of needing to be needed which results in us being available 24/7 to do anything that needs to be done, regardless of gifting or calling.

5.  Lack of a clear vision to God’s calling.  Without a clear vision of what God is calling me to do, I am subject to being pulled in many directions, and so is our church.  Many of these directions are places that God never intended me (or PCC) to go.

Let’s face the fact that it is easy to be drawn into a trap of busyness.  Expectations, traditions, and a false sense of importance each have a strong pull.  It does not require any real thought to do what is “expected” of you because you don’t have to resist – you just comply.  I can easily do “church activities” because “that’s how it is done.”  And this same thoughtlessness can happen in a group like a local church.

Strong leaders need to resist these pulls to busyness.  We need to ask the question of “why” we are doing these things.  We need to seek God to determine if He thinks these things are really necessary.

How to Fix It and Make Disciples...

Jesus told us the mission of the church is to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20).  The apostle Paul repeatedly promoted the idea of imitation by following the example of another as the means of raising up disciples (see I Thess. 1:6, 2:14; 2 Thess. 3:7-9; I Cor. 4:16; I Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1; Phil. 3:17). This imitation implies repeated contact in a discipling relationship. We are called to be in fellowship and body life so that this imitation can take place.

So if people in the church are experiencing burn-out; if some leave the church because they did not feel connected; if it is becoming increasingly hard to staff and fund church ministries, then it means we have a bad case of busyness caused by replacing relationships with activity.

The fix for busyness (and to begin making disciples thorough mentoring relationships) is to step off the hamster wheel and begin asking ourselves why we have each activity and asking God to show the real result.

We also need to have the discipline (courage) to drop any activities that are not producing healthy disciples.  We need to do a gut check and be honest how relational our church is and whether or not we are laying a foundation of love and fellowship on which discipleship is based.

We must be people oriented and not program oriented. 

No comments: