As we seek to live out the Gospel, we do so in the context of the Church—the Body of Christ. And so the question comes, is the Church people or programs?
When I was a kid, there were many Sunday evenings where my parents would invite different families from our church to our house for food and games, or we would go over to other church friend’s homes to hang out together. These are some of my best memories! I loved playing board games, hide and go seek in the dark, eating yummy potluck meals, and just kidding around with my friends from church. This was not a church “program,” but it was certainly a big part of being the church.
However, I also remember connecting with the people of the church through programs.
I remember our church going on organized trips to St. Louis Cardinals games in our church bus and vans. I would sit next to my family and also other folks from the church and we would yell for Ozzie Smith and Bruce Sutter to work their baseball magic—ahhh, good times.
I remember the people of the church through Vacation Bible School. Once, when I was in 4th or 5th grade, my VBS teacher that year was Marlon Hentzel, a veterinarian from our church. The day we had a lesson on creation, he brought in a pregnant cat and we did exploratory surgery right in our classroom!
I remember retreats and weeks of camp where my church friends and I would hang out together with times of worship, Bible study, games, and meals together.
And I especially remember Sunday morning worship services. I remember hearing the Body of Christ sing praises together, read Scripture together, pray together, hear the Word preached together, and listen to the testimonies of brothers and sisters in Christ.
So is the church people or programs? The Church is the people of faith in Christ, but we do experience people in unique ways through the programs of the church. As long as we remember that the Church is people and not programs, we can hold each other tightly, but hold on to particular programs loosely. If there is a ever a program that is not accomplishing what it was intended to accomplish, then we can let go of it and find other ways!