Since helping to start Journey, I’ve not been a proponent of event mentality. I have advocated simplification in church ministries, programs, and activities, as well as in personal and corporate spiritual life. Let me explain.
For more than 200 years, American Christianity has been somewhat in the grips of and enamored by the "camp meeting" style of revivalism. It’s the method of bringing in some heavy-hitters – a great speaker and musician (or other type of talent) and then gathering the biggest crowd you can. I’m certainly not saying this method hasn’t been used by God to add people to His Kingdom through initial faith in Jesus. I am saying that this method in particular was solely used by the church for too long. It has its merits for generating enthusiasm, touching emotions, and impacting people by sheer force of the crowd factor. Heck, I can certainly understand why it’s been used for so long. You get so much "done" in such a short amount of time. From the revival camp meetings that the soldiers attended during the Civil War to the massive stadium events of Promise Keepers in the 80s-90s to today’s church revival meetings, the method has continued and borne much initial spiritual fruit.
Here are some great links for more reading about revivalism and the camp meeting methodology and phenonemon:
- From the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture (is that an oxymoron?)
- Wikipedia: Second Great Awakening
- Wikipedia: Revivalism
- Wikipedia: Camp meeting
- The Christian Chronicler
However, the danger of this approach is allowing it to be the only entry point into faith and also not seeing it as just that – an entry. Many churches and ministries have always recognized these key points and built excellent discipleship ministries, teaching times, and even mentoring relationships into their overall approach following an "event." Yet many ministries and churches continue to pursue these events as ways to "bring them in" and then they wonder why they’re leaving the church 3 months later. You just can’t sustain that kind of emotional and enthusiasm level. Life is not a pep rally.
To that end, as I said before, I’ve resisted event mentality. The name of our church, Journey, is indicative of our philosophy that life is not a series of isolated events, but it is a process, a journey. It consists of laundry, love, laughter, learning, and licorice. It’s in the details of life that people need to experience and discover the reality, relevance and rock-solid righteousness of God.
Having said that, I want to confess that I’m attracted to the philospophy of leadership/ministry outlined by Tim Elmore at Growing Leaders. He describes "catalyst events" as being part of the process rather than the main strategy. I think that’s a very helpful distinction. Consider the following from his site:
I think the key for influencers is to be wary of the Big Event Mentality even as you try to strategically use catalyst events in your organization or ministry. Following that, we need to commit ourselves to the journey, to the process. In Scripture, the process of faith and salvation is often described in terms of agriculture and the harvest. It doesn’t happen overnight. An event doesn’t have to be BIG to be effective. Perhaps we’ve ignorantly recreated the celebrity syndrome that disturbs us in our culture in the church by relying on "heavy-hitters" too often. Perhaps Mom and Pop and Joe Bob have more to contribute to life, faith, and perspective than Super Chris Chun.
On this day...
- Make much of Jesus - 2019
- Cable boxes, tv tuners and pong - 2014
- Busy, busy - 2009
- Review: A Year of Living Biblically (rated 4 stars) - 2008