How About Church Practices Instead of Church Programs?

How About Church Practices Instead of Church Programs?

OK, let’s say you want to change something about the culture of your church.You want to help people move from a consumeristic mindset to a discipleship mindset. You want disciples who live on mission to make more disciples who live on mission to be the norm for your church…

How do you do it? If you’re like most leaders, your go-to strategy is to adopt and implement some kind of church program to make it happen. We’ll preach a sermon series and offer this program that people can sign up for, and we’ll be on our way!

So we buy the materials, write the sermons, get the staff on board, recruit the facilitators, put up the signs, put a booth in the foyer, talk about how excited we are about this new thing, and try to get everyone to sign up for the church program.

Disappointing results

If you’ve never tried this kind of thing, I’ll save you some time and effort: it just doesn’t work.

Even when you get a great turnout and participation in the program, the real results you were looking for won’t be evident. People’s lives won’t really be changed, they’ll just get busier and more excited for a season, and then you’ll move on to the next thing.

So even when it does seem to work, it doesn’t really work. Even if you succeed in getting people into the program, it doesn’t result in the life change you were hoping for.

Programs vs practices

Part of the problem is that there’s something wrong with the very idea of recruiting people to attend church programs, and it’s this: offering church programs to people plays into the very same consumeristic mindset that keeps them trapped in non-discipleship.

So here’s an idea: instead of asking which programs are “working” (which typically means the ones that are well-attended), try asking this instead: What practices are forming us into a community that can pay attention to and participate in God’s mission?

The difference between thinking in terms of “programs” and “practices” is more than semantic.

  • We offer programs for people to consume (usually by simply “showing up”), but
  • With practices, we invite people to, well, practice them!
  • A program is just something we can only really attend or support, and it doesn’t have much formative power.
  • A practice is something we do together that shapes and forms us as a community.

For an example of what I’m talking about, check out the practices we are cultivating in the church I lead.

What if every ministry at your church needed to be filtered through this lens of “practices that form us to pay attention to and participate in God’s kingdom”? If the ministry or church activity doesn’t lead us into that, we stop doing it.

It might change a lot of what you do. It could also change a lot about how you do what you do.

Written by Ben Sternke

The B.L.E.S.S strategy

The B.L.E.S.S strategy

  • B- Begin with prayer. We want you to ask, ‘God how do you want me to bless the people in the places you’ve sent me to?’
  • L- Listen. Don’t talk, but listen to people, their struggles, their pains, in the places God sent you.
  • E- Eat. You can’t just check this off. It’s not quick. You have to have a meal with people or a cup of coffee. It builds relationships.
  • S- Serve. If you listen with people and you eat with people they will tell you how to love them and you’ll know how to serve them.
  • S- Story. When the time is right, now we talk and we share the story of how Jesus changed our life.

Genesis 12:2-3 says, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

How do you value your leaders?

How do you value your leaders?

Adding value, I believe, is one of the most crucial aspects to retaining leaders and coaches. It can be the difference between the leaders serving short-term versus long-term. You want them to feel that they belong and are serving right where God wants them.  How are you adding value to small group leaders and coaches today?

Appreciate Now– Don’t wait until the end of the season to show appreciation or communicate value. Sometimes waiting until the end actually displays that they have to work for your appreciation.

Be Specific– Speak specific truths into their lives.

Think Outside the Box– Not every leader needs a specific gift. Maybe one leader is in a really rough season in their personal life and needs some kind of help.

Who Not What– Appreciate and value the leaders/coaches based on who they are, not just what they do.

The more we communicate value, the better our relationships will be.

You are valuable and you belong. Who do you need to add value to in this church movement season?

Summarized from Lasting Impressions of Value