When Kaleo Church first started, there were a number of things we wanted to do because other churches were doing it. One example is a Film & Theology night. We desperately wanted our people to see culture through the lens of the gospel, but it never really took off unless David or I were there. (Years later, a group started organically in our church and has been doing this as a weekly event.) This and other events led me to think about how churches should start ministries & programs. Here is a thought I'd throw out there:
If church leadership creates a program and tells people they should attend, it is not the gospel.
This goes for prayer nights all the way to film & theology. There are two reasons:
1. The gospel say, "You are already approved and accepted", legalism says "this is what you need to do to be a good Christian". Church leadership should facilitate natural outflows of the gospel. Let's look at an example with prayer. People, as they understand the gospel will want to pray together. They will see their desperation for God to show up in order to reach the city, change hearts and everything else involved in being the people of God. Churches should facilitate the process to ensure they are able to pray as a community. At our church this has led to once a month prayer and fasting nights, prayer prior to service and a Monday night prayer night in addition to prayer being vital at all meetings and home groups. If this is not happening naturally, church leadership should ensure that people are being taught the gospel as it relates to prayer and the Biblical call to prayer.
2. The second reason (which is far less important) is that program driven churches lead from the center. Church leaders should equip others, rather than being a pastor which will create a centrally lead church (see: Leading a Transformational Community). In the long run, programs led from the center will hamper mission, create a precedent of non-missional people who rely on the pastors to do the 'real work' of the ministry. At our church we've learned the hard way, when leaders have great ministry ideas for the church to do these 'programs' usually don't seem to survive in the long run. Yet, when the people who are passionate about a cause are equiped, encouraged and supported, they are able to be released to do the work of the ministry in powerful ways. These gospel or missional pacesetters help others see that everyone is able to be on mission and seek to advance the Kingdom.