Sunday, December 16, 2007

Church Programs!

Not "computer programs" or "television programs" -- but like and unlike them....

Programs are unavoidable I guess, but something interesting from this book, Reveal, by Hawkins and Parkinson, is a list of questions.

Questions? Yeah.

Something we always ask -- because we're Americans? -- is "How many?" In business, how many units sold, how many employees, how much income per employee, how much profit, how many inventory turns, etc. Something that ministers and missionaries ask is, "How many?" How many came to this or that event, how many are now doing this or that activity (or practice, or spiritual discipline), how many are donating (and how much)? The Reveal book suggests a few more questions, to be asked in various contexts:
  • How is your relationship with God? (A friend used to ask, "Are you encouraged in your walk with the Lord?" Another one would sometimes ask me, "How is it with the Lord?" Unfortunately the latter is no longer interested in the Lord, which fact makes me very sad.)
  • What is helping you to grow spiritually these days?
  • What ministry is making a difference in your life? How?
  • What could the church do differently that would help you grow more?
  • How does (this or that program) help someone grow?
These are all great questions, especially that last one. One of our pastors was talking with our old adult fellowship class (that's "old class" -- it's gone now -- rather than "old adults" -- we are not really that old). She drew a chart, with stages of spiritual growth going across and various areas -- it wasn't "the Word; Prayer; Fellowship; Witnessing" but something analogous -- going down. And the question was, where do our various programs fit on this chart? What parts of the chart have a thousand points of light, and which parts are kinda dark?

The book has a different take on that chart; it's more like this:
Impact of programs on people at various stages of growth
ministryseekinggrowingcloseChr-ctrd
Men's Bible Study high high med. low
worship services high high high high

This seems like a real interesting way to think about these programs, and of course you can put more than hi/med/lo in the cells.

My next question, which is really for me more than for you, is, Given my opportunity to teach how and why to read/study the Bible: which stage of growth am I aiming at, what impact on growth of people at various stages of growth, and how will all that happen?

1 comment:

Chris James said...

I'd have to say that a "How and Why to Read the Bible" would be aimed most directly at Growers, though you might get a handful of seekers and a sprinkling of those close to Christ. The real trick is how do you use your time with them to equip them for the time they might spend in Scripture away from church (which amounts to a lot more, and becomes more catalytic to spiritual growth in the later stages than classes of any kind.) Ideally, church programs propel people into non-church activities that help them grow (such as reading/studying the bible). Blessings!