Tag: church programs

Removing the competition

(graphic by Aaron Justin)

The bigger a church gets, the more the tendency creeps in for the church to offer more and more programs.

More nights of the week.

With more variety.

Seemingly meeting more needs.

But the more you offer, the more you show how little you believe in each one of them.  Allow me to explain.

If I believe that Justin Bieber-style music is the way that people truly experience God through song on Sunday mornings in our context (I don’t…but just hang with me), then I’m not going to let any other genre of music happen on stage.  I’m going to work my tail off to get more and more Bieber music in front of the congregation.  I’m going to have CDs ready for people as they leave.  I’m going to find musicians who are gifted pop artists.  I’m going to recruit volunteers who have an ear for the way creative pop music can/should sound.  And if I’m asked, “Can we start incorporating country music into our worship experience, because we used to do that at my last church, and I liked it…” I can easily say, “No.”  Not because there’s anything wrong with country music, but because in our context, Bieber is the most effective.

If we open up the door for country music as well, what we’re saying is that your spiritual growth isn’t that important.  We’re diluting the water with things less important.  Things less effective.  And what we’re communicating is that we don’t strive first and foremost to help you best understand the Gospel…we strive first and foremost to make you happy, and keep you from leaving.  Because if we believed that the Gospel was first and foremost, we would do that thing that most effectively helps you understand and apply it.

Adding more and more programs sounds great.  It sounds like you’re doing the right thing.

But instead of adding more, try honing in.  Figure out the most effective thing you’re doing to help create disciples on Sunday morning…and do that with excellence.  Figure out the most effective thing you’re doing to create disciples in small groups (whether that’s Sunday school, home groups, cell groups, or shallow small groups like THIS), and do that well.

The more programs you offer, the thinner you spread your volunteer base.

The more programs you offer, the weaker each becomes in the mind of your congregation.

The more programs you offer, the more your people are encouraged to do “church” stuff, instead of investing in their family and in their community.

So next time someone says, “Can we start doing __________ program,” you may just want to say no.

Have you ever said, “No” to a program idea?

Have you ever said, “Yes,” but wish you’d said, “No”?


Mass Market churches

Companies that are built around mass marketing develop their products accordingly.  These companies round the edges, smooth out the differentiating features, and try to make products that are bland enough for the masses.  These companies make spicy foods less spicy, and they make insanely great service a little less great (and a little cheaper). – Seth Godin, Purple Cow, 55

Seth Godin, above, is looking at businesses that are trying to have mass appeal.  The way that companies have tried to achieve their mass appeal is by trying to make their products (and services) appeal to everybody.

And in the process, they’ve made their products (and services) appeal to nobody.

And the same things can happen in our churches.  We can try to please more and more people, changing and adding each time another group of people comes along.  Accommodating more and more desires, saying, “Yes” to more and more ideas, and spreading the church staff and church body so thin that effectiveness and excellency go right out the door.  The more you juggle, the more likely you are to drop a ball.  Or all of them.

Instead of that, figure out what God’s calling you as a church to do and be…and go do that.  You can’t accommodate all styles of worship.  Or all styles of small groups (community groups, cell groups, Sunday School, discipleship classes, etc.).  Or all styles of teaching.  Or all of the truly good ideas that come along.

Simplifying is one of the most difficult tasks that an organization can do.  And it’s also one of the most important.

People want to be led.  And God’s called you to do just that.  Figure out what you, as a church, value the most, and start doing that.


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