In my last post, I spoke about the options churches have in fulfilling their individual missions. As I mentioned before, I believe the focus of a church must drive its ministry – not the other way around. I suggested two types of ministry models that drive churches today: event-driven and community-driven. Today we will examine event-driven ministry. When I speak of events, I am referring to special activities and productions that require time, planning, promotion, manpower, and finances beyond day-to-day ministry. Examples include concerts, illusionists, car shows, strength teams, sports camps, fishing tournaments, and monster truck shows (Yes, that’s what I said). I know what you may be thinking right now. Are these not good things? The answer is yes. Is a church wrong for utilizing them? Absolutely not. Can lost people be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ through events like these? Yes, and they have been.
My intent is not to degrade, minimize, or lessen the importance of events in the church. The churches I have pastored have utilized events in ministry. I am not opposed to them. My intent is to examine them their effectiveness as the driving force behind a church’s ministry. Events such as those above have an attractional element t them. They can draw a crowd. The underlying desire is to bring the community to the church campus, have them interact with the church membership, introduce them to ministries of the church, and make meaningful connections that will lead to further involvement. Churches use these types of “come see” events to ensure the community knows where they are.
I will concede that events can produce positive results within the church. Anytime you can connect those who are far from God to believers, it’s a win. However, there are certain negatives that must be considered. Three traps are possible.
- The “one size fits all” trap. The danger here is assuming that an event will minister to everyone equally. The larger and more diverse a community is the less effective this ministry model becomes.
- The “everyone else is doing it” trap. It would be very easy for a church to see the apparent success of another church due to an event and think, “if it worked for them, it will work for us.” This can lead to frustration when the same success is not experienced. Churches cannot be carbon copies of each other. Each one is unique and uniquely fitted for ministry.
- The “where do we go from here” trap. Event-driven ministries face two pressure points. First, there is pressure to grow the event bigger and better. This includes additional funding, manpower, and time. When the community has taken part in an event, the natural tendency is to want more and more. Second, there is pressure to add something new and unique. The thought is something like, “Okay, I’ve seen that, what’s next?” The world we live in changes by the minute. People are fickle and easily bored with what they have already experienced. If the church is not careful here it can become nothing more than an entertainment company for the community.
Every church must determine for itself what it allow to drive ministry. As far as event-driven ministry, there question that must be answered is this one, “Is the church using the event as a means to an end or is the event itself the end?”