A busy church calendar can keep people at church and away from the broader culture. Not only is mission thwarted but people also have a difficult time navigating what their next step at the church is. When there is a plethora of programs/events on the calendar, it is hard to know which ones are really important. How do churches get to an overcomplicated church schedule? How does busyness creep in? Here are three common ways:
1. Attempting to centralize fellowship
An “unchurched believer” is a concept foreign to the New Testament. A Christian not in community is an oxymoron—it is foolish to walk in isolation. Because ministry leaders know how critical community is for spiritual growth, there is a tendency to “centralize fellowship”—to plan events for the whole church to connect together.
In reality, people are only able to connect with a small number of people at each event and tend to connect with the same people. Look around next time. Instead of “centralizing fellowship,” it is wise to push to the edges of the whole church through your class/group structures.
2. Offering an “alternative” for everything in the culture
Events for the community can be a great way to serve the community, but feeling like you need an “alternative” for every holiday or event can quickly turn pastors into event planners—and simultaneously prevent people from knowing their neighbors.
3. Not thinking through their existing strategy
There will always be new ideas, both from people within the church and from other ministry leaders within your network. We don’t suffer from a lack of ideas. But churches often suffer from failing to filter ideas through their ministry strategy. When leaders fail to think strategically, complexity is inevitable because we will always drift there.
My friend Will Mancini has said it well, “Churches are over-programmed and under-discipled.” Offering more and more does not lead to greater discipleship. In fact, it likely leads to less as focus is diffused and busyness is equated with transformation.