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Just programs are never enough.

We can create as many programs as we want, make each one bigger and cooler than the last. And once we start, we can never stop. We’re stuck in an endless cycle of having to outdo ourselves. And the biggest shortcoming of programming like this is that very word: ‘ourselves’.

Just programs are never enough.

It’s easy to try and make things bigger and flashier and relevant-er (is that a word?) than we or anyone else ever thought possible. But what does it accomplish? Behind all the props and sets and lights and mailings, what’s really happening?

Just programs are never enough. Because being attractional is not the same as being relational. Being attractional is not the same as being missional. Being attractional is not the same as being wholistic.

Although the attractional program is very good looking (that’s why it’s called attractional!). But once it’s over it’s over. After the people come, they leave. And then they’re gone. And where? With who?

Just programs are never enough. The things we program and create need to build out of and into the rest of our students’ lives. Who are they learning from (teachers, mentors, coaches)? Who is in their family (siblings, parents, grandparents)? What are we giving them that goes beyond the doors of our events and programs? And what are we inviting them to bring into our programs and events from the rest of their lives?

Our programs are good. And necessary. But because they all come to an end, they are never the end itself. Family is. Friends are. The relational will always go further (and deeper) than the attractional.

Just programs are never enough. How do yours go beyond itself?

Jim Kast-Keat is the Director of fifty6, the fifth and sixth grade ministry at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, MI. Read more at www.jimkastkeat.com. You can also read more about Jim’s thoughts on programs, formation, and family in the July/August issue of The Journal of Student Ministries.

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