I recently re-read a book by Thom Rainer (CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, an organization owned by the Southern Baptist Convention) called, “Simple Church” and something struck me…
Our church programs are killing the restoration movement!
See, the entire premise of the book is to encourage church leaders to seriously look at their programs and processes and determine whether or not they are helping or hurting in the long-run. Not like, “Is the food pantry not feeding people?” but more along the lines of, “Is the food pantry the best way that we could feed people and still stick with the culture and values of the congregation?”
Now, I know those two questions might seem alike, but they are very different. Especially to those who are seeking to follow Christ the way He instituted the church in the First Century (i.e. The Restoration Movement). See, the churches of Christ are trying to do just that. It’s why we don’t have any leadership outside of the local congregation. It’s why we start off every conversation with, “What does the Bible say about this topic?” It’s why we are so different from the religious world around us.
And I honestly believe that the second question has everything to do with our meeting our goal of being the First Century Church in the twenty-first century!
All too often, churches have programs and processes that cause us to leave the Old Way in order to do things the way that we think would benefit us the most.
Most of my readers know, I am the minister at the Warm Springs Rd. Church of Christ in Columbus, GA and the way we do things sometimes surprises people. Especially the normal church leader who has used programs and processes for decades without question.
See, we have processes that we go through for certain things (i.e. one man is “in charge” of setting up teachers and volunteers for the Bible Classes, we have a treasurer and a building man and we even have a processes by which we make decisions in leu of having an eldership – the Men’s Meeting). However, we don’t have programs at WSR!
That’s right, we don’t have a program for this and a program for that where people can sign up and volunteer. Essentially, if you are a member of the family, you are responsible for working in the family. You may have a different skill set that allows you to fit in one place or another, but you’re not going to be a part of a program when you do that.
The problem with programs isn’t that they are sinful, I honestly believe the exact opposite. The problem with programs is that they stifle the Restoration Movement in that they isolate Christians into their respective programs and fail to foster a family-work atmosphere.
Let me say it again, programs are not wrong, but there is a better way to do it, I believe! The better way? Everyone pulls their weight in everything they can put their hands on. Some will not be as influential in some areas, but they are still there. Some may not have an interest in one particular arena of church work, but we’re a family and we’re going to work together even when we might not be entirely interested in what is going on.
Programs are not wrong, but there is a better way to do it, I believe!
I remember my dad often pulling me outside to work on the yard or in his shop or doing some other seemingly menial task in which I was NEVER as interested as watching that show or playing that game. But, we were going to work together because the work needed to be done. And now some of my favorite things to do are getting out and working on something.
Anyway, it’s just a thought that came when reading “Simple Church”. Maybe it can help your congregation or not. Either way just go read the book!