Program Vs. Movement

Most people who follow this blog are very familiar with church programs. Programs often stem from a desire to provide a service or meet a need. In their journey through the church decision making process, programs sometimes lose the practical need that they were intended to meet or are killed entirely. When they survive the sanctioning process, they often become another church activity that attendees must be prodded or guilted into participating in. These programs tend to die out or are endlessly re-invented, without making a practical impact on the need for which they were created.

Admittedly, the above treatment of the “church program” is a harsh one. It is obviously not a rule that can be applied to all church programs. Many church programs are created, maintained and happily participated in. Still, the question must be asked, what is a person to do with a passion to help others when it does not fit in a church program? I am personally aware of several groups (see this one I wrote about last year) who have felt that there may be a more effective way to meet the needs for which they have a passion. As a result they have simply created a “movement” to address the need.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a movement can be defined as a series of organized activities working toward an objective. The movements that are being created are outside the reach of a church’s political process and allows for the efficient, effective and practical meeting of needs. As a result, these people are turning the world upside down. They are harnessing the power of young people and using it to bring real, practical change to the issues of cutting, bullying and depression. While some cluck their tongues at the homeless people living on the streets, these people are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring real, practical comfort to the homeless. Finally, as the sex trafficking of young girls is starting to show it’s ugly head in our local neighborhoods, these people are starting farms in China to save orphan girls from the hands of sex traffickers and teach them skills that enable them to survive on their own. As a result, many people are becoming authentic Christ followers and the people starting the movements are not know for their church affiliation, but by their love for others.

The freedom that is gained by starting a movement, is counter balanced by the lack of ready financial resources that can be obtained through a church. As a result, the “movement” people are forced to rely on God alone to fund their endeavors. I have been reading the autobiography of George Müller lately and was shocked to discover that he was one of these “movement” people, back in the mid 1800s. He found that the church of his day had little appetite for a life of faith, so he stepped away from it and, as a result, saved thousands of children from a lonely life on the harsh streets of London (think, Charles Dickens streets of London).

I believe God is calling His followers to turn their world upside down and we need to be open to the possibility that He may choose to do that through a movement, not a church program.

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