It is true that the right programming is integral to reach and build community in a particular region. But I absolutely believe that more is not always better. After reading Jared C. Wilson’s recent post, 10 Reasons to Underprogram Your Church, I am even more convinced!
It goes against our 21st century thinking, but all of Jared’s points explain why less programming means more community. Out of the ten ideas he presents, three of his points in particular stood out to me showing how a reduction in programming actually improves community:
- "Over-programming is a detriment to single-mindedness in a community. If we’re all busy engaging our interests in and pursuits of different things, we will have a harder time enjoying the “one accord” prescribed by the New Testament."
- "Over-programming risks turning a church into a host of extracurricular activities, mirroring the Type-A family mode of suburban achievers. The church then becomes a grocery store of options or a more spiritual version of the YMCA—perfect for people who merely want religious activities on their calendar."
- Over-programming reduces margin in the lives of church members. "It’s a fast track to burnout for both volunteers and attendees, and it implicitly stifles sabbath."
With too much programming comes division, busyness, separation and, ultimately, distraction. In our culture, doing more, more, more is the norm. We want things done now, and we want to do three things at once. To experience authentic community and avoid burn out, we need to create margin in our lives. We need to take time to rest.
I think Jared summed it up perfectly:
"What all this so often amounts to is a church that is merely busy, and busy does not always equal diligent or faithful.”
Is your church packed with programs that keep it segmented and devoid of unity? How can you simplify?