The Busy Church

Over the years I have learned that one of the biggest obstacles to Great Commission ministry is church work  – church busy work. Many Christians and their leaders are so busy filling slots in the church’s programming and structure that they can’t find the time to do the REAL work of ministry – reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The vast majority of American evangelical churches is in plateau or decline. Characteristically, the church in plateau is over-programmed and the church in decline is over-structured. Churches in plateau tend to be driven by their programming, believing that whatever success or effectiveness they are experiencing is the result of the menu of programs that is offered. Careful observation will reveal that any growth that such a church might be experiencing is transfer growth, not conversion growth, as Christians leave churches with less appealing programming to attend theirs. The kingdom doesn’t grow but the church might. However, those attracted are typically not there to serve but to be served, and as soon as another church comes along with still more appealing programming, they’ll take their church business elsewhere.

Churches in decline tend to be structure driven as the inner workings of organizational framework dominate more and more as the church’s ministry shrinks.  Too many leaders attend too many meetings to repeat the same discussions and conversations again and again while the front line ministry of reaching the community fades further and further into the background.

What is God’s vision for the church? He envisions an eternal family of all peoples that is too numerous to count. They will be His people and He will be their God. How is this to happen? Those already in His family are to reach those who have not yet come in. They are to go and make disciples. They are to be His witnesses.

Countless pastors and leaders have told me they would like nothing more than to see new believers coming into their churches, but they’re so swamped with the work of the church they never get to the work of the kingdom. Could it be that we get so busy with church work that we neglect our Father’s business? Luke  2:49.

About gcmatrix

God has called me to bring vitality to His church through training, consulting, preaching and teaching. So that's how I spend a large part of most days.
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8 Responses to The Busy Church

  1. revtimbrown says:

    Hi Ken, Great words here. These are challenging and prophetic. I think you are right, but I think that this is an unpopular message to people who really like church admin more than church witness.
    Do you have a resources you can point me to that report how witness diminishes during the life-span of the typical church? (statistics would be great!)

    • gcmatrix says:

      Hi Tim, Thanks for commenting. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any specific resources that might include statistics. I encourage you to go to to access Leadership Network. Those guys do a ton of research. Another resource might be the Great Commission Research Network and its publication, The Great Commission Research Journal. I have a few things out there that might be of interest. First, The Leadership Ladder: Developing Missional Leaders in Your Church, co-authored with Steve Ogne and available at Aside from the book content, there is an extensive End Notes section identifying lots of resources as well as a book recommendation section from Steve and me. Second is an eBook of mine available for Kindle and Kindle App called The Silent Church: 39 Reasons We Keep the Good News to Ourselves.

  2. revtimbrown says:

    Reblogged this on . . . As I Follow Christ and commented:
    It has been a while since I have posted on my blog, but I read this from Ken Priddy today. I think it is very challenging. I’ll be back to the blogging thing soon, with lots of thoughts and updates, but for now, check this out.

  3. Elaine Kindl says:

    I am concerned that so many of us get caught up in the “busyness” of church life, thinking that it is our calling to keep the “church” afloat. Spiritual gifts surveys seem to reinforce this idea. We take the results and use them to fill or even create jobs to do in the church building. We relegate any kind of evangelism to those with that box checked on the survey. What’s the solution? Only the Lord knows. We need to be alert to those he sends to us to lead the way.

    • gcmatrix says:

      Yes. The problem is that we view outreach and evangelism as programs and departments, subsets of the larger church ministry. Some people serve in children’s or youth ministry, some sing in the choir or with the worship team, others work in outreach and/or evangelism. By God’s grace I do have a solution. It’s called the Great Commission Matrix, an approach to ministry that runs all ministries through the grid of the Great Commission. This matrix inspired the naming of my blog – gcmatrix. I can see as this conversation is unfolding that I need to explain this Matrix in a blog sometime soon. It’s an essential element of my church vitality training, but not everyone makes it to a training event. Stay tuned!

  4. Elaine Kindl says:

    Very interested to see that matrix Ken.

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