Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Long Live Church Programs

A quick post just to remind people that I do still exist in the blog world. Something cool hip and trendy that has found its way into the DNA of the cool hip and trendy pastors starting cool hip and trendy churches that look like cool hip and trendy cults is the mantra that says, "People don't connect with programs." Programs are not organic church, emerging church, authentic church, relevant church, relational church, church 2.0, or whatever the heck church....programs are to be distrusted, scrutinized, and reek of institutionalization.......or so the cool hip trendy non-conformists would tell you.

But...Is a program anything more or anything less then intentional relationships? Programs are intentional relationship - are they not? Anyhow, end rant.


Derwyn said...

According to a session I recently listened to featuring Ed Stetzer, Willow Creek is doing Sunday School again...

Of course, they'd never want to call it that, but they've discovered that people are now less willing to sacrifice a second weeknight for a small group meeting (they're still doing the Wednesday night Believers' Service thing), so the church leadership concluded that they had to get them to come to church before the service to meet with their small groups...

So is this an example of be willing to tweak the program however necessary to continue building relationship?
Or is this an example to doing whatever has to happen in order to keep the program running?

I think it's the first, especially considering the "step backward" it represents.

Dan Richardson said...

I think programs are great...if the work. If they aren't working I can't see the need for them to stay up and running.

At the same time, I don't think a blanket statement can be made that a certain program doesn't work in all churches across the globe. I think the question has to be asked in each individual church whether or not a certain program is effective. Are intentional relationships actually being built or do we just like to think they are? Is this environment the best place for those relationships to be built? I'm in the process of answering these questions myself so the answers are few and far between.

I think the dangers in programs is firing one up to make people happy. Then you end up with a ridiculous amount of half baked programs with tons of options but no one going. It may have a watered down effect as people start to lose sight of what exactly it is that your church is about.

Boomer said...

It seems to me that programs have the intention of building relationships, but that is not all. They could have goals to teach, promote health, fun, and other things.

I think what you might be trying to say is that programs, by nature, are not a complete wash. Programs can be a positive to build relationship. However, when a program begins to stunt the growth of relationships, it is no longer a tool, but a detrement to the church.

Would that be right?

z said...

I think the reason people don't connect with programs is because most of them falsely advertise. Most programs advertise that in 10 easy steps you'll get this result when really the only guarantee of the program is the relationship building part. Programs guarantee that you'll be working together in community toward a common goal, they don't guarantee you'll reach that goal. If the goal isn't reached people become disappointed because instead of just expecting company they expect results. Maybe if programs advertised that they were just a group of people working through a problem together less people would be dissappointed and programs would be more effective.

Steve said...

If programs are your intentional relationship building, I think there's a problem with that. Of course, it's semantics, but when it comes to the written word, clarity is of the essence.
Programs are simply a tool to facilitate intentional relationship building. However, if you need a program to do that, as a church leader, I'd say there's definately something wrong, and you shouldn't be in leadership. You should be intentional regardless of your programs, or lack there of.

God's laws and God's way of doing things aren't relevant. They simply are not. They go against the grain. It doesn't mean he doesn't try to put things in understandable terms though.

If there is something schedualed, it is a program. Those churchs are walking/talking oxi-morons- in my humble opinion.

z said...

Steve - can you explain or rephrase the "God's laws and God's way of doing things aren't relevant" cause either I don't understand you correctly or I am really inclined to disagree. I also think that if there is a problem with church leadership it doesn't necessarily mean the church needs new leadership, rather that the leadership maybe needs more training or has room to grow, which we all do.
I agree that programs should not be the only way to build relationships, but sometimes for the sake of a new-comer, programs can help integrate people into community. I've experienced that new people usually feel more comfortable when they can work on a team together with others on a project or toward a goal instead of coming in without a 'program' and asking to join a community. It facilitates relationship building usually without the awkward "Who are you and what do you do for a living?" conversation.

unmoderatemike said...

Hey Jer,
So what exactly is a 'program'? Is it the men's breakfast? Is it 'insane clown posse revelation, starfire, delerious, youth group',Or perhaps it's the mexico outreach. What exactly are we talking about. Because every church i've ever heard of has a bulletin, isn't that a list of programs? Yet, I know of a church that is opting out of their building lease so they can go meet in a coffee shop. NO, they didn't start in a coffee shop, they are moving into one to seem relevant, cool, hip, and most definitely trendy. So is that some sort of building program? Remember, it's also cool, and trendy, and hip to be a disgruntled Christian, mad at the way 'things are'. Non-conformity isn't exclusive to Christians. Christians just seem to look a lot dumber in they're non-conformist efforts.(If you like 'slayer', then try 'obeyer'...) And I'm not including Christ in this generalization because he wasn't non-conformist for the sake of it. He just was. My point is, we're all lemmings running into the ocean, bison charging off a cliff, sheep being led....nevermind. Programs give us walls and rules and regulations and we need those to operate. Good and bad, but completely within the realm of human nature, and you can't change that. Have you been boarding a lot? give me a call.

Mike Hunt said...

I like it. well said.

Steve said...

"God's laws and God's way of doing things aren't relevant"
What i mean by that is God's ways usually contradict society and what it's aiming for. For example in the laws, "Don't lust/covet/worship idols etc." Society cares little of one does that. Where as God cares immensely.
His ways of doing things- they have traditionally gone against the norms of society- like we expect him to do somethign one way, yet he has his own way in mind. Kind of like how Jesus came.
That's all I mean by that. Sometimes he will use 'conventional' contemporary things in order to get his point across, or something along those lines... I hope that clears it up.
I have nothing against programs. I think they're great. I just think there needs to be a balance. That's all.