Why are people at your church? What causes them to think that your church is, well, their church?
Last time, we looked at PERSONALITY–the second of our five reason people are at your church. The reasons people make a home at a local church are critical to keeping them there. And reason #3 is important to understand as well.
PROGRAM is reason number three. Many people connect to your church through the ministry programs you offer. Some are drawn to women’s Bible studies, others to the children’s program. Some proudly participate in a certain outreach program–it’s the reason they call you church home. Whatever you do as a church holds the potential to become a reason people assimilate into your congregation.
Now, first, let go of any negative emotions you have toward programs. They are highly valuable. Programs are the means by which we fulfill our vision. They are the tools to get the job done. Some pastors are worn out with programs because they have a tendency to fill the calendar and create a lot of work, but they are vitally important. Programs are only a negative experience when they become separated from your vision. Programs without vision are just busyness. But programs with vision help us get the real job accomplished.
People who connect to your church because of your programs can occasionally think the means is the end. They can become very focused on what the program is doing and miss out on the vision it seeks to accomplish. But that’s not the biggest danger of a program connection. A greater struggle occurs when leaders decide to change programs. Maybe the meeting days need to change or the focus changes. Imagine the day when the program is replaced by something we think will work better. What happens to our program-connected folks then?
When you change a program, you can disorient those who are primarily connected to your church because of that program. Things “feel” different. My reason-for-being-there has been altered, and I may be left with the feeling that I don’t know where I fit anymore.
In the local church, programs are the things we change most often and with every change, we run the risk of disorienting a few people. So what should we do? Should this prevent us from making needed changes? Must we simply have an attitude toward those who loved the old way that says, “Get used to it!”
Actually, that’s not going to work very often, so there is something we can do to help “PROGRAM” people accept needed change. And that answer is coming in the blog posts that follow. First, we need to bring to the table a couple of more reasons people connect to your church. Each of these must be clear to the leader so he or she can anticipate the challenges and lead effectively.