How to Create a Church Programming Strategy

Every church has programs or environments for regular worship. Nowadays, many churches are defined by their programs rather than their vision or mission. It is easy to frame almost any church program to align with your ministry strategy, but keeping it on track and relevant can be difficult. Keeping relevancy at the forefront of your strategizing is essential if you want to maximize your church’s influence in the world.

Chris Holland
August 23, 2022
Kids Ministry Leadership

A Step-by-Step Church Program Guide

Minister creating a church program strategy

When leaders see church programs as the tools that they are, their program strategy will become refined and streamlined, welcoming further church growth. Effective ministry requires planning, patience, and strategy to guide your church through the ups and downs of life, keeping it on track for success. 

Follow these steps to create an effective church program strategy.

1. Rank Your Programs for Relevancy

How many programs do you have knocking about from years ago that you haven’t yet gotten around to clearing out? Probably more than you would like to admit. Nick Blevins highlights the importance of aligning your church programming with your mission and values. More specifically, ask where it fits in with your church vision.

2. Prune What No Longer Serves You

Are there any programs that have turned sour over the years? Or even begun to be a source of conflict or problems? It’s time to say goodbye. If you catch yourself wishing you didn’t have to attend a specific program, others probably feel the same way. There is no shame in ditching a program that is no longer needed; read our blog on program pruning.

3. Refocus Your Resources 

The good news is that pruning leaves you with a far larger supply of resources to play. Instead of stretching your church volunteers thin with endless responsibilities and workloads to juggle, narrow down your focus. Working on quality instead of quantity will boost satisfaction with your church programs while making your efforts more focused. 

4. Ensure Your Programs Connect

A strategy is like a plan – it looks into the future and makes an impact. Think about how your church programs mesh together to complement one another and build something bigger. 

If your programs don’t tell a part of the same story, they will confuse your vision, mission, and congregation. Focus on your goals, and don’t waste time and energy on something irrelevant.

5. Create a Program Strategy Timeline

Planning is everything, and a timeline will guide your ministry well into the future. Is there room for growth within each program? Give all your church programs the attention they need so every sector has a coherent growth plan. Treat each program like its own mini ministry and review, assess, and develop it regularly.

Don’t Forget About the Kids!

Teen being baptized

Church programs for adults are one thing, but children’s programs are an entirely different story. As children have different developmental and cognitive abilities based on their age, the way you approach their programs varies greatly. For adults, programs are based on the specific needs of subgroups, but for kids, they are all lumped together.

Church Programming for Kids Ministry

Having a kids ministry plan

Anyone who works with kids, whether in children’s ministry or sports, will know that their brains are wired differently. Their oversimplified ways of seeing the world and sweet yet direct nature are what make kids so endearing. While we love guiding them towards God through ministry, it requires a thorough knowledge of their unique needs and requirements.

One of these needs (as you probably know) is varied and exciting materials. As kids need to incorporate all of their senses to learn effectively, sitting and reading a boring program won’t cut it! Using themes in your kids’ ministry strategy is a highly effective way of capturing the attention of young kids while helping them relate to complex and abstract ideas. 

Church Programming for Youth Ministry

Adapting a youth ministry strategy to make them feel welcome

Older kids or young adults in your youth ministry have a very different set of needs. The themes you come up with in an attempt to be relatable and fun will probably be a bit cheesy and embarrassing to them. As Stuff You Can Use points out, for teenagers, the barrier that prevents learning isn’t cognitive – it’s emotional.

This means that helping teens blow off some steam and relax will be one of the most effective tactics to support learning. While they will probably roll their eyes at first, there is nothing quite like a group game to break the ice and get your youngsters smiling. Choose one game per week that relates to the subject matter at hand to ease your teens into following the program.


Church comes together as a community

The point of church programming is to offer more ways for people to connect with God, feel His love, and grow into better people. That’s why it’s important to meet members of your congregation where they are and fulfill their specific needs and requirements. From preschool to high school to adulthood and beyond, all members of your church can benefit from ministry programs.

Reassessing the direction your church is going in every year will help your ministry to understand which programs need more investment and which are best left behind. Every church changes over time, and sticking with old habits just because it’s a tradition serves no one. In fact, refusing to change and adjust your church strategy may contribute to the downfall of your ministry in the long run.

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