Friday, March 19, 2010

Developing People Not Programs

In Missional Renaissance, Reggie McNeal makes a strong appeal for the church to move from a program-driven focus to a people-centered focus. He suggests that the effectiveness of a missional church is based more on the quality of its people than the quality (and quantity) of its programs.

The North American church has been very successful with program development. We have produced structured, goal-oriented, structured programs to involve the masses. This emphasis grew out of the industrialization and mass production model of early 20th century America and our enchantment with bureaucracy coming out of World War II. This approach worked well in the 1950’s and into the 1960s, but a new day is upon us. One size does not fit all (if it ever did).

People development multiplies the ministry of the clergy and moves the church into the real world. A congregation that wishes to foster a people development culture will see members as missionaries who are called and sent out to the world. This means recognizing the uniqueness and giftedness of each person, equipping each with appropriate life and ministry skills, and coaching the person in their ministry lifestyle.

We must not put all of this on the congregational leadership, however. Missional Christians should not settle for being placed into “slots” in the church programs, but they should seek to live out their full potential as followers of Christ. This may mean seeking out those on the staff or in the congregation who can help them do what they have been called to do.

This is a cooperative endeavor that recognizes the great opportunities in an externally-focused ministry. Church leaders and members must work together to make this a reality.

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