program-oriented ministry vs. people-oriented ministry
Not to stereotype, but here’s your average Spring Hill-ian’s relationship with the church:
- Grew up in the Bible-belt where church was a cultural aspect of a good, healthy lifestyle
- Has been involved in a large, seeker-sensitive mega church
- In this experience the church wanted to attract people by offering the widest array of programs possible, much like a shopping mall attracts shoppers by offering the widest possible array of stores
- Left that experience a few years ago because what they saw was amusing for a while but ultimately lacked depth and was not life-altering.
- If they’re coming back to church it’s because they want to “raise their kids right”.
- Has been taught that the measure of a successful church is how fast it’s growing and/or how big it is
These people know that Christians are supposed to be involved in ministry. To people with this past, being involved in ministry means either launching or supporting a program with the church and it only “counts” if it’s in the church bulletin, funded by the church budget, and at the church building. Here’s the mind-shift from the New Testament that we’re trying to foster at The Bridge…
A mind-shift from a program-oriented view of ministry to a people-oriented view of ministry.
This difference is subtle but vital. In a program-oriented view of ministry I ask the church leadership if I can start a new official Bible study, help with the children’s choir or RA Group, or help plan the next big event. With a program-oriented view of ministry my energies are focused on a program. With a people-oriented view of ministry, my energies are focused on a person. I may…
- Ask the staff for names of some people who’ve visited the church recently and invite them to my house for dinner and cards sometime
- Ask a couple guys in my small group to start meeting at Starbucks before work to process Scripture we’re reading together
- Ask some women in the church if they want to read a book together for discipleship and discuss it
- Start reading the Bible with a new or young Christian and meet regularly to process it
- Set aside Thursday nights to have non-Christian neighborhood families over for dinner
- Serve in the Kids’ Ministry or Student Ministry on Sundays for the purpose of identifying ways to invest in kids’ families or students outside of those times in small ways
How this is different:
- It’s chaotic – As the pastor I have no idea about all the ministry that happens at The Bridge.
- Leadership has less control.
- It empowers every Christian in line with the New Testament principle of the priesthood of every believer.
- The programs a church has with a people-oriented view of ministry are only the ones which are essential to best facilitate people-ministry. For The Bridge this is Kids’ Ministry, Student Ministry, and Angel Food (food-distribution to the needy). That’s it.
- It is limitless. In a program-oriented church the amount of ministry that can happen is limited to the amount of program-leadership the paid staff can facilitate. With a people-oriented view of ministry the amount of ministry that can happen is limited only by number of people. The kingdom is unleashed.
- Small Groups are a hub (in which everyone ministers and is ministered to) that ministry flows out of instead of a to-do list item to “attend” and simply receive from.