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Tim shared a great post last week about “The New Normal Project” at Granger Community Church. It was a post written about what used to be known as stewardship campaigns. You should check out the full article.

This is the quote that grabbed my attention:

“We had very few extra events (i.e. banquets, home meetings) and focused everything we could around the weekend services. People are very busy with very good things–and most of them can only give us one shot a week. That doesn’t mean they are unspiritual or don’t love Jesus or the church. It just means they are living their lives, investing in their families, and contributing to society.”

Tim was writing about their specific project, but I think we as church leaders need to be challenged by Granger’s learning. Generally, churches are very event-driven. We are a one-trick pony. If we want people to take a next step, we try to gather them at a specific time at a specific location and we teach them. Then, when people don’t show up to our events, we assume they are either unspiritual or uncommitted.

Do you know why we do events? Let me give you a few reasons…

  • We do events because churches have always done events. It doesn’t matter if the event actually helps people or not, we do the event because we’re supposed to do the event.
  • We do events because they’re easy to measure. If more people show up, we assume the event was successful and helpful.
  • We do events because we’re lazy. It’s a lot easier to just throw events on the calendar than it is to think about how we might effectively help people take their next steps…especially if that involves engaging people in relationships.
  • We do events because they justify staff positions. Staff members feel obligated to do events to prove the need for their positions.
  • We do events because we have egos. It feels good to get up in front of a group of people and teach them. We feel fulfilled.
  • We do events because we’re afraid to say no. Many times we don’t know when to say no because we haven’t established a clear vision and strategy.

The reality is that your “successful” event could actually be doing quite a bit of harm. If you keep people busy at your events, you may be preventing them from investing in their marriage, their children and their relationships with other people including people outside the faith. You may be preventing them from fulfilling their calling. They think they’re becoming more Christ-like by going to church, when you could actually be pulling them away from what God has called them to do.

The next time you try to play the event card, ask this question: “If we can’t do an event, then how might we help people take their next steps toward Christ?”

There may be instances when an event is the right call. My concern is that we seem to overplay that tactic. Here’s my guess. If we get aggressive about eliminating events on our church calendars, the alternatives for helping people take their next steps are going to look a lot like the discipleship relationships we see modeled in the Bible.

Interested in some of my other non-traditional thoughts on ministry strategy? You may want to check out my new eBook that officially launches later this week.

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