How busy should a church be(e)?
Before we reopen everything it’s worth thinking about this question.
Although it feels unspiritual and a backward step to do less there could be good reasons for it. We discussed eight -
1) An individual Christian is too busy when they can’t do all the other things God calls them to. e.g. personal prayer (Matt 6), teaching their children (Deut 6), diligent work (Col 4), invested marriage (Eph 5), care of parents (Mark 7, 1 Tim 5), personal evangelism, rest, exercise. If a church’s programmes are too busy it could inadvertently be bad for the conscientious believer who does everything.
2) So far as Scripture is concerned there is no command to meet twice on a Sunday or for midweek small groups. These are great things but it’s worth being clear that they are not mandated. A church could be equally obedient and keen that has a very different set up of programmes. We need to be devoted to prayer, scripture, fellowship (Acts 2) but not to a particular set of programmes.
3) Times have changed in the last 30 years. The average worker probably does longer hours. Many husbands and wives both work and have to manage between them to cover childcare. Without compromising what God has called us to or watering down discipleship, we have to take that seriously.
4) Times have changed in terms of evangelism. Alpha courses used to be full. Now many people know nothing at all, and the journey is longer. That means that a diary full of evangelistic events may only to attract a tiny crowd (probably the same faces each time). If we put on less it could be better - so long as we all aimed to spend the extra time in intentional friendships.
5) The church calendar can teach what a keen Christian should be committed to. If we put on too much for anyone, we’re teaching that folk can pick and choose and it’s fine not to do lots of things e.g., like the prayer meeting. A trimmed back calendar might help show that serious membership means something costly yet manageable that we all do.
6) A less busy church gives more scope for short term focused things e.g., a mission, a parenting course, a marriage refresher, developing leaders. It can give some space for creativity and spontaneity.
7) It could mean volunteers are less stretched.
8) It could mean even higher quality that might help us grow.
We talked and prayed through this as Elders but deliberately made no decisions. We may indeed open everything we ran before the pandemic but we’d want to do that thoughtfully and prayerfully - not just because we always have.
In sharing this post, we hope it might help each group leader to think and pray too.
“Whatever you do, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Colossians 3.17