When you begin planning in your church, what is your beginning point? For too many years, the beginning point has been, “What does the denomination have for us?” Churches simply adopted the latest denominational program and plugged it into their congregation whether it fit or not. The same mistake is made today by those who surf the Internet looking for new and attractive programs and choose them for the congregation based on their authors or their graphic design without regard for the realities of the church’s members and its context.
I hope that we are making from progress when it comes to church planning and are moving from the mindset of “Here is what we have for you. Come and plug into it” to “Where are you in your Christian journey and how can we help you live for Christ each day?” The difference is between an industrial approach and an organic approach. The industrial, “one size fits all” approach assures church members that an activity is good for them and they should join without any questions asked. The organic model assumes that each person is unique in the eyes of God and has special needs and opportunities.
Now some will say that they begin their planning process with the Bible. If you mean by that you are taking seriously God’s concern for people, I can go along. God certainly has worked with a quirky group of people in the past, recognizing their abilities and handicaps. The Bible is candid about this and testifies to the unique ways in which God has worked with people in the past. The challenge is just as real today!