Many congregations structure their life around programs rather than relationships, thus putting a drag factor on vision.
Too many programs drag down congregations. They create busy-ness that can be exhausting. They create a need for single use space that shackles the congregation under debt or mammoth fundraising efforts. They burn out both staff and lay volunteers.
Not long ago I sat in a congregational staff meeting where a relatively new staff person described the pressure he felt during his first year and the physical illnesses he experienced trying to keep up with all the programs and make them successful.
One process I use with many congregations is 100 Days of Discernment using Dialogue and Prayer Triplets. This involves as many members as possible participating in dialogue and prayer triplets which meet 10 times over 100 days for at least an hour guided by various issues about the future of the congregation.
One of the inevitable outcomes in almost every congregation is the declaration that the congregation needs to decrease the number of programs to allow for a more open informal process of dialogue and prayer.
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