Monday Morning Quarterback

Stuff I Learned on Sunday

It’s really hard to not think in programs. Whenever church folk talk about problems, we talk about programmatic solutions. Worship attendance is down; we need a program of phone calls and mailings. Tensions in the community over a contested bond issue; let’s host a program of discussions.

Maybe church folk aren’t unique in this, but we do it, do it, do it a lot.

It happened in the adult Sunday school yesterday. For the past three weeks we have been exploring race relations at our church’s, from its founding in 1955 to today, when we share our campus with Hispanic and Indonesian congregations. Still, we’re a mostly white church in a mostly white community (see slides below), so we’re exploring what might need to change.

Our solutions? Programs:

A pulpit exchange with non-anglo churches; a series of visits to local racial/ethnic congregations; invitations to those churches to worship with us.

My colleague said, “We need to build relationships, not start new programs,” and hands shot up all over the room to suggest . . . programs.

But what else is there, really? I mean as frustrating as it is to recognize the elements of a program in all of these suggestions (publicity, event planning, volunteer recruitment), how else does a group of committed people change something? Do they just take it upon themselves to visit those racial/ethnic churches and not tell anyone what they’re doing?

What is the alternative to programming? Relationships? But doesn’t building new relationships take some intention and some planning? Doesn’t that kind of make it a program?