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Churches Should Not Just Do What Works

February 19, 2007 by

Last week Kevin wrote an entry about something Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv said regarding sticking to what works. While I appreciate the intentionality of getting rid of unnecessary activity, there is a slippery slope here if we’re not careful. Your comments are already indicating so.

I trust Groeschel’s heart in what they’re doing. My worry is that some people will take this concept and run the wrong way with it. We can’t be eliminating the very things churches should be doing! The very Message we’re all communicating is always going to be at odds with our selfish, lazy, indulgent, and passive human nature.

Getting rid of church-sponsored softball teams (let’s continue clearing out the Christian ghetto people!) is one thing. Getting rid of biblically-condoned ministry contexts is quite another.

The church is not always going to be doing things that people naturally want to respond to. From discipleship and caring for the poor, to teaching the fundamentals of faith and being a hospital for sinners, not everything we do as a church is going to appear like it’s working, or even that it always matters. This doesn’t mean we should stop doing it.

The measure for success is not just about how many people respond or attend. It’s also about how well we’re being Christ’s hands and feet so that we can truly be called beautiful for communicating the Good News!

Post By:

Brad Abare


Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it. He and his wife Jamaica live in Los Angeles with their daughter, Miró.
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7 Responses to “Churches Should Not Just Do What Works”

  • Mark Collier
    February 19, 2007

    I believe both posts are hitting on something important. Although there are some things that we must do as churches, that does not mean that we all have to do it the same way or to the same degree. It would be silly to assume that every church should do exactly the same things exactly the same way.


  • Zach
    February 19, 2007

    Glad to see a quick and well thougt response on this. We can’t be too much like a business , jettisoning “non-revenue producing” projects and programs. We have to be a safe hold of consistency as well. It’s a fine line between doing it because other churches have success and doing it as an act of ministry to Christ.


  • Phill
    February 20, 2007

    I agree to some degree…we do things that net almost no return in the budget or growth in Sunday morning attendance…at least in any measurable way…
    Like the dude in one of our small groups who found out about a family in a neighborhood we don’t natural reach from a pastor at another church…it is there member…
    But we have logged over six hundred man-hours, along with professional companies and thousands of dollars of material and labor…all to help a family finish a house they could not afford to finish…
    Go Figure…one mans heart transferred into a movement at one church in Texas…
    Those are the cool things…the things we don’t plan but just happen because God wants it to…so yea we will do those things…
    BUT on the majority of things…we will measure and if it is not producing some sort of measurable return…we will leave it…
    In the church world its called managing Gods movement…


  • Pudge
    February 20, 2007

    two thoughts:
    1) If something isn’t working…it isn’t honoring God to keep doing it. Our job (as the local church) is to reach and grow people with the Good News. If a program, ministry, Sunday School class, etc. isn’t doing that…cut it out (it’s only draining your resources and that is poor stewardship).
    2) I believe the things churches “should be” doing are the things that WORK in reaching & teaching the Good News to others. Maybe I misunderstood the comment – “We can’t be eliminating the very things churches should be doing-?”


  • RC of strangeculture
    February 20, 2007

    1st: If Craig’s goal is to lead people to a life lead by Christ then he’s probably talking about what “works” in regards to that end goal.
    2nd: I agree this is a good conversation…I think “what works” will be based upon what “the goal is.”
    3rd: It seems to me that most things in church are often unmeasurable in terms of success UNLESS we’re talking about salvations, numbers, or budgets.
    4th: One of the things I’ve seen frequently being eliminated in churches today is prayer.
    5th: I wonder if that’s because people haven’t seen the quick results of prayer on a corporate level.
    Just some thoughts.


  • Ian Johnson
    February 21, 2007

    I certainly agree with this post. Where the Scriptures tell us our real goal–that we should all grow up into the unity of the faith into mature people who look like Christ (Ephesians 4:13)–it is dangerous to insist that everything we do must also produce some effect on some lesser goal (such as “decisions,” increased attendance, participation in organized programs, or offerings)simply because these lesser goals are statistically measurable. God is often doing things we can’t measure, I think…


  • Pudge
    February 21, 2007

    Maybe it’s just me but I am totally lost at where so many of you are going on this…
    As pastors & leaders (of a church) it is our job to make sure that we implement plans at reaching the people with the Good News & that it works. The “decisions,” increased attendance, participation, & offering show how well of a job we are doing (yes there are ways to know without “measurable” stats) but that’s not the point. You can’t just cast off the “details” of HOW to reach the people because you choose to water down scripture (as if by just standing on a corner and quoting scripture will save people).
    The point is this: When we begin to say, “lets not worry with what works” we have begun to see our agenda and convenience over HONORING GOD with how we reach out to His people EFFECTively.
    People don’t just come…not to the movies, not to restaurants, not to the churches! God gave us brains, passion, & vision as gifts to reach His people in EFFECTive ways!
    Am I alone on this one, or am I totally missing what in the world everyone else is talking about?



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