7 Practices of Effective Ministryby Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner and Lane JonesMultnomah Publishers, Inc.
2004 by North Point Ministries, IncThere is a definite distinction to be made between a step and a program. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a program is "a system of services, opportunities, or projects, usually designed to meet a social need." Most churches are fairly effective at designing programs to meet needs. And the church staff usually feel like it is their responsibility to understand the needs of their congregation and community and establish the appropriate programs to meet those needs. When you "think programs," your inclination tends to be to create something in order to meet specific needs that have surfaced in your attendee base or target group.When you "think steps" there is a fundamental difference in your perspective. Now the primary goal is not to meet someone's need, but rather to help someone get where they need to go. Notice how the same dictionary defines a step: "one of a series of actions, processes, or measures taken to achieve a goal." A step is part of a series of actions that systematically take a person somewhere.To state it another way, when you think programs you start by asking. "What is the need?" The first question is logically followed by a second question: "How are we going to meet that need?" The result is a program-oriented ministry--it is designed to meet a need.When you think steps you start by asking, "Where do we want people to be?" That question is followed by a second, more strategic question: "How are we going to get them there?" The result is a ministry that works as a step -- it has been created to lead someone somewhere. This way of thinking makes a lot of sense in the light of what the church is called to do.
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