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Building programs that attract people
By Steve R. Mills
If you have ever been to Disneyland, you probably spent time standing in line. It is not uncommon for people to stand 45 minutes or longer in the hot sun for a 5-minute thrill. We seldom see people so attracted to our churches. What can we learn from Walt Disney?
The secret of Disney's success is that he focused on people, he provided the "highest quality entertainment" he could find, he used right leadership, and he made a long-term commitment to reaching his goal. Your church and Sunday school can develop the kind of programs that attract people and enlarge the kingdom of God by using the same four principles.
1. Focus on people, not programs. Programs do not reach and win people. People win people. Growing churches have discovered specific needs and are reaching out to meet them. No church can meet every need, but a church that focuses on building people rather than on building programs will attract and win people.
2. Focus on quality, not quantity. Often a church tries to be all things to all people. They use people and build programs. To be successful, we must use programs and build people. Don't try to incorporate every program into your church. Most effective churches are competent in only one, two, or three areas.
Churches that are reaching their communities usually have a program the community holds in high esteem. A community is not attracted to programs that are below its expectations. We need not compete at every level, but the church must know the standards of the community and develop programs that excel by those standards.
3. Select leaders who make both relational and functional contributions. Leadership is the key to successful, attractive programs. Leaders must be competent in administrative and functional skills. However, it is also important that leaders build relationships with people in both the church and community, as well as provide functional and administrative expertise to the program.
4. Make a long-term commitment to developing a quality program. It takes 4 to 5 years to develop a quality program. Unfortunately, we often demand instant results. We start a children's, youth, or singles program and expect it to be instantly successful. When it doesn't happen, we become frustrated and jump to another program that promises to be the key to success. We need to make the commitment of our time and resources to see programs succeed.
The reward for developing an attractive program comes when the community recognizes the church's contribution. This recognition affects all the other ministries in the church. For instance, when a community sees the church cares about single-parent families, they will tend to come to other activities because the church has a reputation for being one of quality.
The biblical principles apply: "Do all things as unto the Lord," and "They will see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
I would love to see people standing in line to get into our churches and Sunday schools. By implementing these four principles, I believe we can provide the kinds of ministries that will draw people to our churches and to the Lord.