Ministry: Environments vs. Events

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In the majority of the churches I have either attended or ministered at the ministries often relied on events over environments. Ministry consisted of having some type of event or activity for a given ministry area…so you have fellowship events, a service event, a new members event, or some type of evangelistic event. This style of ministry is appealing for several reasons. They are usually pretty easy to plan. They have a concrete start and stop time. They can be pretty easily controlled and require little to no maintenance. Those are huge pluses when you are using a volunteer army of mostly already very busy people.

Environments on the other hand require a lot more in order to be done right but have some great benefits over event-centered ministry approaches. They provide a more coherent approach because you are developing community out of which flows various areas of ministry (fellowship, study, etc). They provide consistency (as opposed to the more random/hodgepodge approach of a random list of disconnected activities). They provide real connection over time as people are around each other week in and week out rather than in a one time event where you hope they later take initiative to maintain their new found connections.

More and more I am becoming a fan of environments. This was one of the driving factors in our decision to change up our Bible class. We realized we have three environments that specifically focused on Bible study and ZERO that focused on actually serving others. Something had to give. At the end of the day environment focused ministries will end up doing more and not less than the event-centered approach. It is just hard to let go of the reigns and allow a more organic approach that may be a little harder to define or measure than what we are used to. There is still room for congregation-wide events but I am more and more convinced that more meaningful work is going to get done and on a more consistent basis through developing effective environments for what we believe is important.

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