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Growing past church programs and activities is not easy

Posted by on May 25, 2011 in church life, community, discipleship, edification, fellowship | 11 comments

Growing past church programs and activities is not easy

In a previous post, “Numbing our souls with church activities,” I said that church programs and activities keep us busy doing “good things” to the point that our souls become numbed to our real issues that we should be dealing with. However, recognizing the danger in filling our lives with programs and activities is only the first step, and the remaining steps toward growth are not easy.

To begin with, when we step away from the church programs and activities, we often learn that we don’t know how to serve people, to disciple people, to evangelize people, to teach people. All we know how to do is to attend programs. Even those who lead the programs often find themselves lost with the structures and confines of the program or activities.

This is probably most obvious when it comes to fellowship and activities. Often, those people that we feel closest to in the programs disappear when the program ends. We find that we do not really have relationships with those people. At the best, we have an acquaintance with one another.

It is a painful realization when we discover that we are actually very immature when it comes to service, teaching, evangelism, discipleship, and fellowship. The pain is enhanced for those of us who have been Christians for a long time. The pain, unfamiliarity, and discomfort often lead Christians to assume that it is wrong to move away from the programs and activities, and they begin to fill their lives with them again.

Once Christians grow beyond this stage, they began to form real relationships with other people. This is the next difficult step in growing past church programs and activities. Why? Because when we truly begin to grow in our relationships with one another, we learn people’s flaws as well as their strengths, and people learn about our flaws as well as our strengths as well. We can no longer hide behind church programs and activities.

Not only do we now have to learn to accept people in spite of their weaknesses, we have to trust other people with our own weaknesses. If we never reach this stage, then again our mutual growth will be hindered.

Once we are able to admit that we don’t truly know how to love God and others (because we had only been attending programs and activities), and once we admit that we don’t know how to build relationships with one another (we’ve only been acquaintances before), we are finally able to begin growing together.

The task is not easy. In fact, apart from Christ working in and through us by the Holy Spirit, the task is completely impossible. However, as we surrender ourselves to Christ together and learn to listen to, encourage, admonish, and help one another, we will find amazing growth toward maturity in Christ as a group.


11 Comments

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  1. 5-25-2011

    We have an unfinished conversation on this topic, Alan. Great post

  2. 5-25-2011

    Alan,

    Thanks for posting. This is one of the top 3 reasons I left the institutional church after many years of attending.

    Swanny

  3. 5-25-2011

    Excellent post. I think the reason we like programs so much is the very reason you state, that we never really have to share ourselves or even learn about others. We attend to alleviate our guilt of not serving, but at the same time are able to remain more or less anonymous. We don’t want to get too close or we’ll actually have to help someone through difficulties which may drain us, or they will see our warts and might not want to associate with us again. It boils down to my own need to be affirmed by others to find worth in myself and my own selfishness in wanting to hoard my time for myself by not spend time with other people’s needs.

  4. 5-25-2011

    Doug,

    Yes, and we still need to get together one day when I go to Atlanta.

    Swanny,

    What were the other 2 reasons, if you don’t mind me asking?

    John,

    Yes, alleviating guilt and remaining anonymous is huge. I know that we were able to build/maintain relationships with people who were part of the same programs as us, but that happened outside of the program itself.

    -Alan

  5. 5-25-2011

    Many others, but here are the big 3

    1. The shallowness of the people attending, no fruit being seen as a body of believers. This one you just wrote about in this post.

    2. The money being spent in overhead when people are in need all over the world, and in our own community. Is all of the cost of building or even a campus needed? I know this debate is as old as dirt, but I felt led to be a bit more frugal and wise in the way I help others.

    3. As I took and taught a 2 year discipleship study, I learned much more about the New Testament church, and church structure, which showed me that Christ is the head of His Church and how we are The Bride (an organism, not an organization)

  6. 5-25-2011

    Swanny,

    Thanks for sharing. As to #1, I’ve often heard attending listed as the main fruit…

    -Alan

  7. 5-25-2011

    no problem. I could write a book on each of the 3 items, but not going to.. haha

  8. 5-25-2011

    Swanny,

    Perhaps you should…

    -Alan

  9. 5-25-2011

    Thanks Alan, these last two posts are very timely as we walk through the aspects of calendaring at our church and really trying for the thought that doing LESS is actually doing MORE.

    It is such a tough transition.

  10. 5-25-2011

    Alan,

    Selling eternal life insurance policies, to get people sitting on pews will always acts as an anaesthetic to unsuspecting church members.

  11. 5-25-2011

    Jeff,

    I’d love to hear more about how your church is adjusting the calendar.

    Aussie John,

    I do think that the evangelical attitude of “get ‘em saved” may have something to do with this.

    -Alan