The Program Driven Church

It seems that every problem in this world can be addressed by downloading an app. Need to do your banking, we have an app for that. Need to convert currency, we have an app for that. Need to calculate your mileage, we have an app for that. Need to post on social media, we have an app for that.

What is an app?                                                                      

As Juliet states in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” For us old-timers an app is simply a program. I understand the format is intended to be more user friendly but, as many will attest to, it is just a dumbed down version of the webpage or program it is meant to replace. App has three letters program has seven, am I the only one to notice the correlation between the number of letters and the number of things that you can do using each interface?

Rename it what you want, it’s still a program.

The root of a functioning user interface is the programing that you do not see. The level of simplicity or the targeted end user does not change the fact that the program is designed to accomplish a desired outcome.

A program is created to allow the computer, laptop, tablet or phone to interact with data. A program, regardless of whether it is classified an app or not, is a tool that aids in the completion of a number of tasks leading to the desired outcome.

For those who are less tech savvy, a program or app is a tool design specifically to cause frustration and anger followed by the kicking or launching of the device being used.

A program is a tool that, on its own, simply exists.

A program is a link. It would be ridiculous to rely on a program to address an issue without input from the user. It would also be ridiculous to expect the program to apply the solution it gives. There is the front end, the user input and the back end, the user applying the solution. Without these two actions all you have is useless computer code stored on a computer chip.

The program driven church.

This is not an attack on the Purpose Driven Church movement and publications but rather an attempt to wake up the churches that have taken purpose driven and made it into program driven. It is easy to do and tough to undo but it is time we found our way back to the purpose of the church, hint-hint, it isn’t to create useless computer code!

The church does not exist to create and maintain programs.

I am not saying that church should not have programs but rather that programs are not the purpose of the church. Programs are a link between the body of believers and its purpose.

Sunday morning service is a program that links the believer with their purpose, interacting with God. If a person does not engage in the singing and teaching or does not apply what they have learned or experienced, it becomes purposeless programing.

Outreach is programing that links the body of believers with their purpose, to obediently follow God’s call to reach the lost. If the church is not preaching obedient relationship with God to existing followers of Christ or the church does no more than put on a program without inviting those not following Christ to enter an obedient relationship with God, it becomes purposeless programing.

Purposeless programing drives many churches and church goers.

There’s an app for everything, a program that can allow us to accomplish great things. Our lives as followers of Christ are not defined by programs. The collective of Christ followers is not defined by programs. Programs are tools that in the right hands can lead to accomplishment but in the wrong hands become decorative pieces that represent busyness without purpose.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)

The problem doesn’t lie in having a program, it lies in defining our purpose in terms of having a program.


  1. App is short for application, which has been used as a variation on ‘program’. Sorry, I used to program computers, long ago.

    I agree with you both that a good program is one that glorifies God. The problem arises when the program drifts from being God-centered – maybe due to new management. Then you have a 30-year history that used to glorify God, but now glorifies the one managing it or the church building, whatever. I was once part of a church that tried to become purpose-driven and abandoned the idea for the sake of programs that are not working, because God is not at the center of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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