Is busyness an indicator that a church is fruitful and effective in advancing God's kingdom?
Not necessarily, according to Lifeway Christian Resources CEO and researcher Thom Rainer.
In fact, there are some churches today that have become too busy they no longer have time for actual ministry. Ironic as it may sound, these churches are caught up in a lot of activities that hinder them from becoming more fruitful.
Rainer identifies in his blog a number of reasons why some churches get stuck in busyness, and he also gave recommendations as to how these stumbling blocks can be addressed. Five of these reasons are discussed here.
1. Activity is equated with ministry.
In some churches, church activities are treated as ministries. Thus, having more activities is perceived as having a wide scope of ministry. However, this is not necessarily true, because not all activities bear fruit for the advancement of God's kingdom.
2. Church leaders fail to evaluate the effectivity of existing ministries.
Some churches do not evaluate if their existing ministries are still effective or still needed. According to Rainer, most churches review their budget annually. The annual budget review should be a good opportunity to review existing ministries as well to see if they should be retained, modified or stopped altogether.
3. The church focuses too much on one activity, draining manpower and resources from others.
This happens in many churches. They launch a major activity and allocate a big portion of budget and manpower for it. However, the activity often ends up taking volunteers away from other ministries where they could otherwise be more useful. As a result, other ministries become neglected.
4. Activities done within church facilities are prioritized.
In some churches, there is a perception that activities done within church facilities are more important and more "real" than those done in other locations. This effectively hinders them from being outward focused.
According to Rainer, this perception keeps church members "too busy to do ministry outside the walls of the church."
5. Old activities that are no longer effective are retained for the sake of tradition.
Rainer calls such activities "sacred cows." Because they have been so ingrained in the church's tradition, the church leaders or members do not wish to stop them, even though they may no longer be needed today. In extreme cases, the thought of removing these activities is even considered "blasphemous," Rainer said.
Rainer said "understanding the origins of dysfunctional busyness will help churches avoid this problem in the future."
Regularly evaluating various programs or committees would help keep churches from being ensnared by busyness. It would also help to evaluate whether or not each activity or program fits into the church's mission or direction, Rainer said. If the activity no longer aligns with the church's mission, then it's tme to ditch it.