Thom Rainer: 7 problems with activity-driven churches

Meredith Flynn —  March 13, 2014

Thom_Rainer_blog_calloutCOMMENTARY | Thom Rainer

Editor’s note: Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. This article was originally published Feb. 12 at

Many churches are busy, probably too busy. Church calendars fill quickly with a myriad of programs and activities. While no individual activity may be problematic, the presence of so many options can be.

An activity-driven church is a congregation whose corporate view is that busier equals better. More activities, from this perspective, mean a healthier church. The reality is that churches who base their health on their busyness already have several problems. Allow
me to elaborate on seven of those challenges:

1. Activity is not biblical purpose. Certainly some activities can move a congregation toward fulfilling her biblical purposes. But busyness per se should not be a goal of a healthy congregation.

2. Busyness can take us away from connecting with other believers and non-believers. It is sadly ironic that local churches are often a primary reason we do not connect on a regular basis with people in our community and in the world. We are too busy “doing church.”

3. An activity-driven church often is not strategic in its ministries. Leaders do not think about what is best; they often just think about what is next on the activity list.

4. A congregation that is too busy can hurt families. Sadly, some church members are so busy with their churches that they neglect their families. Our churches should be about strengthening families, not pulling them apart.

5. An activity-driven church often has no presence in the community. Christians should be Christ’s presence in the communities their churches serve. Some Christians are just too busy doing church activities to have an incarnational presence in the community.

6. Activity-driven churches tend to have “siloed” ministries. So the student ministry plans activities that conflict with the children’s ministries that conflict with the senior adult ministries, and so on. Instead of all the ministries and activities working together for a strategic purpose, they tend to work only for their particular areas.

7. Churches that focus on activities tend to practice poor stewardship. Many of the activities are not necessary. Some are redundant. Others are sacred cows. Ministry effectiveness can often be enhanced with less instead of more.

Many of our churches have traded effectiveness for busyness. Good use of the resources God has given us demands that we rethink all we are asking our members to do in our churches. We really need more simple churches. Now that’s a novel concept.

Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.

One response to Thom Rainer: 7 problems with activity-driven churches

    Gloria A Austin March 13, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    SO SADLY TRUE. I am a lay leader in my church and often have to “choose” and oftentimes) do not attend redundant 2-3 hour meetings. I love to be on the street sharing Christ.and engaging community members with the life-changing message of the Gospel.-and that is where you will find me. Unfortunately busyness keeps most of the congregations across this city, and country- inside the walls, planning one activity after another after another and after another….