I read Fellowship One‘s ‘slogan’ a couple of weeks ago. I speaks into this theme of “People Not Programs”. I couldn’t agree more. This got me thinking about some of the things that get in the way the Church reaches and serves people.
The primary existence of the Church (this encompasses her arms) is to reach people. (Feel free to substitute “Church” with your specific ministry, team, organization etc) It’s been said that the Church is an organization that exists for the people not yet in it.
That’s not entirely true. The Church exists for both people in it AND those not (yet) in. Over the hundreds of years, the way in which the Church has fulfilled her mandate, has changed. Sometimes the changes have been rapid and extreme, some subtle and slow.
Despite all these changes one thing remains. The Church was instituted by God. Her purpose for His glory – reaching mankind (bottom line).
For the Church to be effective, though, she has no choice but to be relevant. However, in the quest for relevance, she cannot afford to overlook her purpose, as that purpose relates to people.
With that said, it means that every undertaking of the Church must be a means to glorify God as it reaches and grows people into His purpose for their lives. This means whatever means or program used is a mere tool. Tools exist to serve purpose not the other way round. When your programs start running at the expense of people you’re missing the mark.
This occurs when:
Programs can be run at the expense of people by being more focused on having the program run or its mechanics instead of what it is supposed to accomplish i.e. serving them. I am not saying programs cannot or should not be tweaked so they are better able to serve people.
But, what I am saying is that they should not take precedence over the people. Thus, we have to be careful that people are not being driven to fulfil programs needs but the program is driven to meeting people’s needs but not at their expense or detriment.
Way Of Working
When those responsible for the program or the means of doing things, get so protective of the program from changes that could help the program better serve people.
Before shooting down suggestions to change your program or methodologies, it is imperative that you examine whether you are just defending the program or protecting the people and the interests of the people to better serve them.
Programs also run at the expense of the people when those entrusted to run them are constantly being run down. I mean they are serving people through programs but not in a way that is healthy for them.
This may include where programs take up so much time from those that are serving such that they do not get adequate time to rest, or spend with their families.
When the Church gets to that point we step into the counterproductive zone. We cannot save others by “destroying” others. Sometimes this happens in environments where volunteers may not be sufficient.
It is possible that the same program that should serve people can actually end up destroying them! You’re not going to win battles by destroying your army!
Though we need a systematic way to disciple, serve, reach etc people we must keep in perspective that it is people not programs that must be at the forethought of all our activities or planning.
Remember: programs are necessary enablers but they are not the object. Serve and love people more. It is more about people not programs.
How else do you think programs tend to come at the expense or instead of people?