Churches Should Do What Works

February 15, 2007 by’s Craig Groeschel talks about cutting back church ministries. What?! No VBS? No choir? No women’s ministry? (gasp)

I love his simple and calm reasoning that churches should do what works to spread the gospel, not just what other churches do and not just what keeps Christians entertained:

  • “We stopped doing church sponsored sports. Why take believers out of corporate leagues to put them together in Christian leagues?
  • We stopped VBS because we reached more kids for Christ each weekend than we did during VBS (and with a lot less money and effort).
  • We stopped doing concerts because we were basicly providing entertainment for Christians.”

And it’s not that these things are wrong, it’s that they weren’t working for Are they working for your church?

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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15 Responses to “Churches Should Do What Works”

  • The Aesthetic Elevator
    February 15, 2007

    The last church I was in, as well as my current church, have both grappled with this question. Even Sunday School was completely reorganized (and done away with in the traditional sense) with the exception of the “old people’s” class. Now Sunday School at both churches is more or less what you’d call electives.

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  • Mike
    February 15, 2007

    It’s all about “displacement of goals” which I learned about back in management 304 or something.
    If all these church activities are done in an ‘outward’ manner, then they’re fine. It’s when they settle in to a self-referencing set of goals that they become rote and marginally effective.
    I guess the danger in eliminating the more traditional standard activities is that they almost always serve at least the one purpose of maintaining internal small groups. A church of more than 100 members must have inner structures that maintain interpersonal relationships and the interactions that make up the body of Christ.
    If you eliminate these groups, you better be sure that the new hotness provides that same function, and that the functions are successfully carried over.

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  • Rolando Martinez
    February 15, 2007

    I believe that the biggest problem we have in churches is that we try to imitate what works in other larger churches. Every church is different and we all have different needs. the answers to the questions as to what ministries are needed is to simply look at the members. usuallly they can tell you what they are looking for.

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  • Ryan
    February 15, 2007

    I think that’s the mistake though Rolando…people think they know what they want but that’s not leadership to follow what people “want” but what they “need”.
    I think Craig is right on…we have designed church to be insular, a country-club for Christians, and in doing so we do what the so-called members want and not what the “onlookers” need. Get Christians dispersed just like Jesus asked…get them influencing and relationally invested outside the walls of the church and into people needing Jesus.

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  • chris
    February 15, 2007

    i want to challenge your statement. I agree with you that every church is different. If the perceived needs of the your members dictates what ministry activities you are doing, it seems that all you are doing is keeping your people happy. From my perspective, our members should be saying, what do the lost need? What will get them here? What will connect them to Christ? To me that is why makes those decisions, because they aren’t nearly concerned about what will make “their people” happy as much as what will work to win the lost.

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  • Chris
    February 15, 2007

    Sorry Mike,
    on that last comment i was addressing Rolando.

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  • Annie
    February 15, 2007

    I am not sure how I ran across your blog, but since I did, I am going to comment. . .I understand your thought process about doing away with some of the more traditional programs, and I agree that you have to evaluate the mission of your church, and you need to do what works. That being said, you have to equip your members in order to give them the ability reach the lost. For example, a women’s Bible study provided by a Women’s ministry will help give me the prayer, support, and accountability that I may need in order to go out and witness! The church my husband and I attended before we moved had the motto, “We are hear to love the Lord as we lead others to the same love.” And let me tell you, God is moving in that church!

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  • jason
    February 15, 2007

    i agree with pretty much wat everyone else is saying..I think its a matter of having the right balance, certain events for christians and events that christians attend to impact unsaved people.
    one event our church youth runs is “Sunday Night Live” where the youth basically run a service and have lots of upbeat songs, small skits and videos and other stuff. Its basically a night to invite unsaved people so they can experience what church is and get a different perspective on god and the church.
    these nights are always a big hit..we spend 5 weeks working on them and then one night (we usually have about 5 a year) where it comes together.
    we also do events like christmas in the park – a live show with singing dancing and free rides and food for the people in lower socio economic parts of the city. This event is just about showing God and the church love them
    so yer, its basically about balance.

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  • rolando
    February 15, 2007

    I agree with everything that is being said. when i said listen to the members, i meant get their imput as to what they need in order to reach out to people. we can have a lot of ministries to reach out, but if we dont have the training for the support cast, the people reached will not be discipled properly. any activity to reach people is great.

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  • Gene Mason
    February 17, 2007

    Perhaps churches (us) should concentrate more on doing what Christ commands versus doing “what works.” God promises to bless His plan (Matthew 28, Acts 1, 2). Since when does He promise to bless our motives, however good they might be? In this new trend to “go simple” (see Thom Rainer’s “Simple Church” book, for example), are we focused on the attention of people or the obedience of Christ. More and more I find these two goals are likely mutually exclusive, most of the time…

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  • revkrister
    February 18, 2007

    Sorry for my ignorance, but what is “VBS”??

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  • Quinzy
    February 19, 2007

    We have talked about this a ton at our church, and have even verbalized that we are not trying to be a “Wal-Mart Church” (i.e. – one stop shopping). We even announced that we were going to start removing ministries like the woman’s ministry, sunday school, etc. as we move to a Sunday Morning Show (errr…I mean “service”) and Small Groups Ministry. The idea is to do less better. Yeah, we just re-launched a men’s ministry and a women’s ministry and have decided to do some type of gimmick to boost attendance in Sunday School. Next step is to hire really old people and put them at the doors with blue vests and a handful of smiley stickers!

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  • Jamie
    February 21, 2007

    Make Sure That You have the Motorized carts so that people can get around much easier. Just kidding!
    I Think it is plain and simple Jesus told to go and make disciples and He didn’t do that by just sitting around with the core but He went out and affected people where they were and that was at the wells and the marketplace. Let’s go outside and bring them in not let’s wait inside and hope they come!

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  • Rob
    March 9, 2007

    for revkrister – Since no one has said it in nearly a month I thought I would. VBS stands Vacation Bible School. It’s usually a weeklong event for kids between preschool and 6th or 7th grade. It’s usually held during the Spring or Summer while kids are out of school and can be anytime during the day or evening. It usually has a central ‘theme’ that each days activities revolve around. There is usually an opening group session to help people get organized, signed-in, and get to the right class (usually separated by age). Each class rotates through the days activities. There are usually 5 or 6 ativities: bible stories, crafts, snacks, music, physical activities, etc. Each activity usually follows the theme. It’s used as an outreach to the community where the church is located but, usually has mostly the kids of the church members attending.

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  • Shawn Miller
    March 31, 2009

    In light of the current events that are going on, and the fact that
    satan is as an angel of light, could you please share with me your
    stance on the new world order, and the Bilderberg Group. I realize
    that satan is not going to be working so blatantly out in the open and
    announce his intentions, but I am concerned that an event is being
    made to happen to further their call for new world order. It appears
    that this current financial disaster was orchestrated to enslave the
    world for their cause. What is the position of your church? What are
    you doing and how are you preparing your people for what is happening
    right before our eyes?
    Shawn Miller

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