The do-less church

After years of more, more, more — not Andrea True Connection’s standard — in church, I’d be happy with a lot less, if done well.

That’s the point of the 37signals.com blogpost called “How Chipotle, Pinkberry, and others win big by doing just a few things well.” In my experience, many churches do many things and let many of them slide. Churches can easily become building managers, caterers, child care centers, educational opportunities, musical foundations, small-scale social service agencies and an employer. How many of those will work if there’s only 100 in the pews on Sunday? 50? 10? And what’s the likelihood anyone’s really looking to join a committee?

I’d relish a plain-talking congregation that says: we meet for worship and organize teams to send to other groups to help. Once a year, we have a giving bazaar to encourage charitable giving. We will refer you to educational options. If you want coffee, or to meet for meals, or hold classes, or have a fair then do so. But don’t think of it as part of the church.

But what it does, it does with great care and resolve.

One Reply to “The do-less church”

  1. This is a worthwhile idea. For an older congregation though it is extremely difficult to change a church culture that calls for numerous committees. Some smaller congregations need to move from replicating larger church functions to creating a very different kind of church. For example, if the congregation has fewer than forty members then why not encourage intergenerational worship? Does every small congregation really need a formal social justice committee when members could just coordinate their justice activities at coffee hour?

    One of the more challenging aspects of small church life is the Board of Trustees. Most of the smaller congregations I’ve known have replicated the larger church models and they find that at least a quarter of the membership serves on the Board at any given time. This wastes congregational energy on administrative issues.

    Some times it is better that a very small congregation devote its resources to doing two or three things well rather than spread itself too thin.

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