A few days ago I read this post over at the YS blog from Jonathan McKee about programming.
I don’t typically do a lot of reading to discover what’s going on out in the world. I’m pretty ignorant on culture, politics, and latest ministry trends (I guess there was something called “post modernism” … but never really knew what that was about). For years this has been a source of laughter and myrthment for both Doug Fields and I. He loves “the news,” and think that’s hilarious. I’m ignorant on just about every current event, and he thinks this is funny (still not sure why).
This is just another reason why we’ve been such good friends over the years. Anyhow, it probably seems like I’m way off topic, but I’m not:
Even I, the one who is basically in a bomb shelter of oblivion and ignorant bliss, have caught wind of “those people” who think programming isn’t a good way to do youth ministry.
Now, McKee is filled with way more tact than I will ever achieve (which I liked), but I’ll say it like this:
There is nothing of any substance done anywhere without program.
That may be a slight overstatement, but not by much. Here are a few observations:
- Schools have programs (can education even happen without a text book and a school bell and a clock) (maybe Montessori schools don’t have these…I’m not sure)
- Political parties have programs (to raise money, to preach a platform)
- Sports teams have programs (practices, games, etc.)
- Every business has programs (meetings)
- Even psychologists have programs (set length of meeting time, specific objectives/treatments are predetermined)
- Human life is a program (birthdays, holidays, traditions, rituals)
- Entertainment is program (don’t even need to list)
“BUT MCGILL, the church isn’t anything like any of these!” If that’s a real thought out there, I don’t even know where to begin with you.
“BUT MCGILL, none of my friendships are programs!” Ok…but… most of them probably started at some kind of a program, and they certainly were deepened because of some programs…and if you are best friends with some person you met at random at the street and all you do is randomly meet and continue to do nothing–way to go! You are one in a trillion.
I also liked McKee’s balanced approach, as he outlined the dangers (and past mistakes) on relying too much on program. Great stuff.
Programs are important. Life change does happen at programs…and programs are an excuse for relationships to form and foster and develop and deepen.
We can love program too much…but we can also “love” relational ministry too much…
Anyhow, good article, McKee. I probably need to check out some of your other stuff.
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