Sometimes, Programs Are Just Cosmetic Products for Church

That is the same girl.
Ah. The power of make-up: It can really change someone’s appearance, right?
Make-up can also cover up blemishes that may appear on our faces.

But make-up doesn’t change anything except the physical appearance. All make-up does is change your outward appearance. If you’re a mean person, make-up isn’t going to make you any nicer. If you’re ugly in the inside, no amount of make-up is going to change that.

It’s not unnatural for some people to look for shortcuts around their issues than deal with them directly.

No one wants to look hard in the mirror. We’re afraid of the person that might stare back. We’re afraid that all the issues around our lives might be, really because of our doing, and no one else’s. That’s scary. At least for me it is.

So it’s easier to blame others.
It’s easier to mask big problems with temporary solutions or excuses.

All the friends I’ve lost in the years, they all have one thing in common, they don’t get me.
The teacher completely hates me, that’s why I don’t get good grades in that class.
I always work for the same type of bosses, that’s why I always get fired.
I’m not a cheater, the girls I date always give me reasons to cheat.
We’re facing big financial woes, but let’s buy a new house, maybe that will fix our family problems.
We’re facing huge marital problems, but let’s have a baby, it might fix everything.
That got me to thinking about churches.
There are some churches who are in dire need of looking at their core issues, but instead of doing so, they apply church-cosmetics in the form of programs.

They go out and try to find the new children’s director for a ministry of two children.
They go out and try to find the cool, new youth director for a youth ministry of one, hoping that this new youth director would bring more children.
They go out and try to get a younger minister, in hopes that the younger minister would bring in younger people.

These, in the long run, are temporary solutions to a deeper, core issue.
Sure, these things can help solve a problem, but if the church doesn’t change their ways, these programs have a higher rate of failing in the (short) long run.

Some churches do all sorts of things to fix the outside problem, like fixing up the church campus, changing the color of the church’s walls.
But many churches, like people, don’t want to look at the real issue that might be hindering them: that they might be their biggest enemy in taking the positive step forward.

I know churches who have all sorts of programming that don’t have any relations to each other. It’s like a strip mall. The strip mall next to our church has a Starbucks right next to a plumbing/water related store which is right next to a vitamin store, which is right next to a Panda Express. No rhyme or reason of store placements. But strip malls don’t have to have a rhyme or reason. They just need to make sure they get paid for leasing out their spaces.

But I think churches need to have a reason or rhyme in the programs they run. All of our programming should have a purpose to it. Just because your church has programs to fill up everyday of the week and then some, doesn’t mean that the church is healthy and effective. All of our programmings should have a way to lead people into discipleship at most, and into a deeper relationship with Christ in the least.

I’m not saying a program is bad. But you can’t have a program for the sake of having programs. And you definitely can’t rely on programs to save your church. That’s a short term fix for a long term problem.

Churches that are struggling need to look hard into the mirror. Or hire a coach or a ministry consultant to address the issues that we may not see, because we’re too close to it.

We’re in a season where many United Methodist Churches are forced to shut their doors forever.
But, I don’t think that has to be the final solution!
I think most churches can still be effective in their ministry.
They may not become a mega church (but who really wants to become a mega church?), but they can be an integral, important part of the community it surrounds.

In order to do this, they need to stop hiding behind excuses or programs, but really look on how they can be a church for the surrounding neighborhood.
We need to realize that the mission of our church isn’t to raise money to maintain the campus.
We have to realize that the purpose of our ministry isn’t survival of our ministry.

But in order to do that, we have to strip all of our pretenses and make-up away and take a long hard look in the mirror.
Then, in humbleness, it’s allowing ourselves and our church to be clay, and let God mold us into the church of God’s vision and dream.

I know, I know. Always easier said than done.

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