No Ladies Bible Study. No Youth Group. No Sunday School. Maybe even no nursery? You may have just set foot inside a brand new church plant.
If you’ve been used to a larger church with all of the typical American church programs, you will probably feel like you are settling. It might not feel like a ‘real’ church. You might feel disturbingly ‘un-busy’ when you’re not at the church building 3-4 times a week.
I’m here to say that it’s ok. I’ve been there and felt those things. I’ve had to fight those feelings and I continue to fight them on occasion. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need those programs to grow as a Christian. Can God use them? Yes. But do you NEED them? No.
I’m not anti-program. I’ve participated in many and benefitted from them to varying degrees. It’s just that I’ve found that I don’t need them like I thought I did and my kids don’t either. At first, I thought I was harming my children by being part of a church that did not have a youth group or age appropriate Sunday school classes. We’d had those things for 10 years and they were built into my psyche as a brand new Christian teenager way back when. Then, as we spent time at a relatively new church plant with very few programs, I heard things from my kids. Things like “Mom, I realized that I was really more excited to go to church to see my friends in Youth Group than to worship God.” I saw adults praying with my children–purposely seeking them out to do so and befriending them. My kids and I saw that programs can be really nice–but not having them is ok too-actually even better than ok. When people show sacrificial love and kindness without a program to prompt them, even to a person they don’t share a natural affinity with–the Gospel is put on display in a big way. People notice. Jesus notices. The Gospel is made attractive. It’s completely different from the world. The world loves to be around people just like them–have you ever noticed that? The church should be different than the world. It should be the one place on earth where we love to hang out with people that aren’t like us-just because we have Jesus in common.
So, most days, I don’t feel like I’m settling anymore. There are still some nagging doubts that Satan jabs me with here and there but I’m pretty much over it. I’m over believing that I NEED to have church programs that match mine and my families affinities. I believe I’m the better for it. Jesus is more than enough. He doesn’t need programs to accomplish His work.