Friday, May 30, 2008

Programs or Discipleship?

At "Innocent as Doves" there is a great video about a fictional priest (at least I think the congregation is fictional) who discusses how busy he is with programs like:
  • Sunday School & Adult Christian Ed.
  • Wednesday evening Bible Study and Classes and Dinner
  • Christmas Pagent
  • Lenten Series
  • Small Group Ministries
  • Holy Week
  • Easter
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Mission Trips

He seems to be worried that all these programs are getting in the way of transformation and discipleship.

Go there now and watch the video. I'll be here when you get back.

OK. You're back. How would you go about advising the Rev. Percy Veering on his "extreme makeover."


Phil Snyder


plsdeacon said...


It is my experience that The Episcopal Church does a very bad job at catechesis or discipleship training. A relatively small number of adults are involved in Christian Education and even fewer do a lot of study outside of Sunday Morning or Wednesday evening.

Programs are nice, but the goal should be to move people closer to God and to lead transformed lives. More outreach and less "inreach" is called for. Perhaps we could combine a bible study or prayer meeting with some form of outreach work.

Phil Snyder

Jill C. said...

I would be tempted to scrap it all and start from scratch, however -- you might lose half of your congregation. (Of course, sometimes that's what needs to happen.) People can burn out in doing good and it sounds like this guy and his parish leadership need to rest and rethink their priorities!

What if the vestry were to go on a weekend retreat and talk about mission and ministry? What's most important in the life of this parish? What are we primarily called to do? What do we do well? How do we get there and what, if any, "programs" do we need to do it? If the parish does not have a vision and mission statement this could be the time to start praying and working on it.

An activity or program or service that has little participation anymore may have reached the end of its natural life and could be eliminated.

Other activities might be done better by combining efforts with another local church (not necessarily Anglican or Episcopal) for more participation and less stress on the priest and staff. Also consider what other churches or para-church ministries are doing in your area: are you duplicating their efforts? How can you work together?

After prayer and consultation and a new or revised mission and vision, whatever doesn't come under the mission and vision statements should be considered for phasing out -- even if it's something that the church has always done. It may be painful but in the long run it will be better for the life of the church and those who have yet to come through the doors asking, "Sir, we would see Jesus!"