the weblog of Alan Knox

Something is missing? Just add another program!

Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 in blog links | 7 comments

Something is missing? Just add another program!

Over at “Church in a Circle,” there’s a great new post called “Doubling up at church – filling our week with extra programs because Sunday isn’t meeting our spiritual needs.”

The post examines something that I’ve noticed about the modern church. If something is missing in people’s spiritual growth, instead of changing current activities, the church organizations simply add another program. Eventually, every night of the week is filled with different programs, meetings, committees, etc.

Churches are doubling up on programs because meeting in rows isn’t meeting people’s core spiritual needs. We’re running Bible study groups on Wednesday nights (so people can engage directly with God’s Word in a group setting), social groups on Friday nights (so people can get to know each other better), and mission groups on Saturday afternoons (so people can find ways to apply God’s Word in real life) – all for the same people who attend on Sunday mornings. Why? Because the Sunday morning church service isn’t effectively connecting, engaging and empowering God people. We’re tying God’s people up in multiple meetings, taking them out of the world and using up all their free time, because the format we’re using for “church” isn’t allowing people to connect, learn or grow.

Could it be that so much is missing in people’s spiritual growth and maturity because of the way churches are meeting together? If so, then adding programs and activities will not change who the people think they are and what they think it means to be the church. This kind of thinking will always hinder their spiritual growth… regardless of how busy they become doing different activities and programs.


7 Comments

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  1. 9-18-2012

    Unless what you are doing is birthed from the spirit, it’s just flesh sowing to flesh which can only bring a crop of corruption.

  2. 9-18-2012

    Matt,

    Do you think it’s possible that the Spirit could use something that he did not birth in order to help his children?

    -Alan

  3. 9-18-2012

    Thanks for posting about this, since this problem is close to my heart. Most leaders don’t take their congregations’ needs seriously, preferring to treat them as a poor reflection on their spiritual state rather than real problems with how worship services are organized. I really liked how a church in Eugene, OR that I visited in 2008 made the sermon more informal, allowing participation from the congregation. I also liked how a church here in Southern California did away with passing the offering plate during service, replacing it instead with a strategically placed lockbox that didn’t draw attention to everyone’s giving. But changes like that are difficult to implement as long as there are leaders and (usually older) members who treat any changes are evidence of “liberal” or heretical teachings permeating the church.

  4. 9-19-2012

    Thanks again for mentioning my blog, Alan. It’s wonderful to see God at work in his church worldwide, getting people to creatively re-think our approach to meeting as God’s people. We live in a time of great innovation and creativity, where every institution is having to move away from the business models of the past. It’s only natural that the church will too.

    Kathleen

  5. 9-19-2012

    God will use all things for our good. To strengthen, mold, teach, and or love us. Even things not birthed from the Spirit….

    looking at my journey with the Church since I was a baby…. I would say 80% of things I attended were not *necessarily* Spirit birthed… however, God has used all that in my life… if for nothing else but to show me how NOT to do things, what does NOT work for me…to realize nothing and nobody is perfect but it’s a process and we can trust He will lead us to better things for us in His time… They also made me look up in the Bible myself when things didn’t seem ‘right’ in my spirit…. and then finally – each step got me closer to the specific path He had for me by refining the vision He was planting in me of what could be.

    I also relate it to… everything is permissible…not everything is as beneficial as other things.

    God can use anything/everything…. but I do believe some ways more than others, create more obstacles, more chances for us to stumble over ourselves, over Christ, over “stuff”….. and some ways clear the path to Christ, allowing us to be quenched more easily, more accessibly, more fully.

    If God is sovereign – that means He was sovereign over each Church experience. I will not look back anymore and think ohhh what could have been, longing to redo or dwelling in the could have beens…. I will say, “thank you God for where I am right now! Thank you that you have used ALL things to work toward my good! and of course thank you that this is still only the beginning!”

    All that being said… what about those that never evolve or grow in their relationship with the Church. Never grow in the way they relate to the Church or relate as a Church. I don’t know. I’m not them.

  6. 9-20-2012

    Jenny,

    Thanks for the examples. I’ve heard of other examples like those when churches have put away some of the programs and activities to help people focus on their relationships with one another.

    Kathleen,

    Thank you for the great post. I’m enjoying your blog also!

    Randi,

    “God can use anything/everything.” Yes! And, I agree with your follow up statement as well. The question that we often ask ourselves is something like this: Is there something we can do differently (or not at all) that would allow God more freedom to work in the ways that he wants to work?

    -Alan

  7. 9-20-2012

    I like that question to ask ourselves!