Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Jesus Program

Even looking at it from a human perspective you could definitely say that there has never been another person who has effected human history more than Jesus. The few things he did during a finite amount of time on earth has sent reverberations throughout the generations. And what strikes me is that he never had any kind of "program" going, as far as I can tell.

We never see Jesus planning events. "Hey, let's invite 5,000 people to a picnic and feed them with a few bread loaves and fish. Peter, you distribute fliers. John, you paint a banner. Phillip, go get a radio ad going."

We never see Jesus offering regular public services. "Now tell all those people to meet me on the mountainside every Thursday at 3:oo as I go through my current series on Beatitudes. And tell them after I am done teaching we will have a time of prayer and healing. Andrew, while everyone is praying with their eyes closed I want you up on that mountain behind me playing music as soon as I say 'Amen!'"

We never see Jesus outline his discipleship training curriculum. "Okay, disciples, we're going to have 40 days of purpose as we go through my various parables, memorize my Thursday 3 pm sermons (verbatim--including punctuation!), and I will quiz you on the names of all the books of the Old Testament. Those who get the higher marks will be rewarded by not having to pray before our meal times."

And we never see Jesus setting up organizations or committees. "After I finish writing these bylaws I'm appointing Peter, James and John as board members who will receive occasional special counsel from Moses and Elijah. With the synergy we generate from all of our ideas we'll put together an impressive package for the post crucifixion event. Now, Peter, don't bail out on me at the last minute!"

But Jesus was still able to change the world. How did he do it without a program?

Now, I don't think programming is wrong and I think there are some great programs out there that do a lot for God's kingdom. But, sometimes I wonder if we put more energy into programs than we do people. Sometimes I wonder if our programming keeps us buried under work and isolated from the community. Instead of worrying about our relationship with people and their relationship with God, we worry about their relationship with the program. "They haven't been in attendance lately." "Why haven't Bob and Melissa signed up for this class yet?" "Janice should be a small group leader by now."

But when I look at Jesus, I just see him going out there and doing things in the community and addressing events as they occur. It was his presence and his exposure to the community that allowed him to have such a great impact.

What do you think?


  1. I don't see Peter handing out fliers. He strikes me as a bit ADD. (Did I mention that Peter is my favorite disciple?)

    It's easy for us not to get caught up in programs right now. We're a small, intimate group. When we get together it is to do one or more of the following: worship, pray, fellowship, plan, disciple or serve the community (this could mean taking someone a meal, rebuilding someone's fence, whatever). That's it. No car washes, or 40 days of purpose, no bake sales.

    We really like the K.I.S.S. approach: Love, live serve. Anything else is extraneous.

  2. Hi Katdish, what is the K.I.S.S. approach? Does it involve covering your faces completely with white makeup and a star over one eye while sticking out a long pointy tongue?

  3. No. But I did find that sort of ironic, considering my blog post today. Personally, I am vehemently opposed to anyone even remotely resembling a clown. Clowns are freaky (and not in a good way).

    K.I.S.S. - "Keep it simple, stupid" (even though I don't let my kids use the word stupid)

  4. Ha! I just saw your KISS post (after I replied to your comment) and laughed!

    Apparently "K.I.S.S." is too complicated for me to understand if you have to explain it to me.

    Keep It Spelled-out, Simpleton

  5. First of all, I change the acronymn's meaning to Keep It Simple, Sweetheart. There. Doesn't that make it better?

    I think programs will develop to serve the community, but that it really needs to be about the community. If Bob and Mellissa haven't signed up for class yet, why not? Do they need a sitter, or are they just not interested? Janice needs to be asked if she can lead a small group. Maybe she is too busy with school, and needs to know that the community understands that and supports her.
    Unfortunately, sometimes we get more attached to the programs than the people in them. Bummer.

  6. Hey Koffi, sorry I've been a while in commenting. But I have been reading. Great post here. It is amazing to think of all the things we try to do to get a fraction of the results that Jesus got.

    And yeah, big Chief's fan! I'm excited about their recent trades. It will make for an interesting season!

  7. Cool. I have stories I could tell about trying to follow them from all the way over here.