Don’t Be That Couch

Today is the final post in my series of posts sharing what I learned about momentum from the Catalyst One-Day event taught by Craig Groeschel and Andy Stanley. 

Andy Stanley‘s talk in the final session of the Catalyst One-Day Conference was mostly focused on programing. Specifically, he talked about how programming can become part of our organizational culture which leads us to focus on our programing, not the people we try to serve. Over time this can cause us to lose sight of the mission and people we are attempting to serve because we are so focused on our programing. 

Andy starts out the talk with the example of an old beat up couch that the family does not want to get rid of because of the memories and history of the couch. And he uses that as an analogy for his talk about how we need to be focused on our mission and the people we serve, not on the past history we want to preserve.

Andy Stanley

Programming is the answer to a question or a need.

All programming that takes place in an organization should be an answer to a need of the people we are trying to serve. Or, programming can be an answer to a question we have about who needs served and if we can serve them this way. Programming is a way of attempting to answer that question by creating a product or service.

Over time programming becomes part of your organizational culture.

This is definitely true. I experienced this when I first started working at the United Way of Stanislaus County. There were so many things we did that I was not sure why we did them. As the new guy, when I asked, “Why do we do that?” the answer I received so many times (that it still angers me to think about it) was, “We have been doing that for xx years.” Correct me if I am wrong, but that was not the answer to my question.

Now, I am all for respecting processes and time tested tools and methods, but everything we do (as leaders and followers) should be for a purpose. When an organization begins doing things “because we have always done” them, that is a clear sign that the programing has become part of the organizational culture.

We must be more committed to our mission than or programming or model.

This is so true and applies to what I shared above about what I thought when first working at United Way of Stanislaus County. The focus of an organization should be on its mission and everything it does should evolve around, support, and push that mission forward. When programming does not support that mission, then we need to cut it. Cutting it frees up our time to do what supports our mission and it gives another organization an opportunity to provide that service.

Over time, sustaining the model can become the mission.

I think this does happen in organizations and churches. Especially churches because so much of what a church is resides in history. Sometimes people working at organizations or volunteers who are involved that have seen the “good ole days” do not want to see changes because they remember how things were.

It is good to remember that the model should support our mission. The model might change, but the mission probably will stay the same.

Over time, a model can work against the mission.

This is true also. I remember taking a class in 2011 called, Church and the Mission of God. The professor shared a story of a church he served on staff at in South Dakota where the church was very committed to creating a good looking and well built church as a way to get people to come to church. As a younger man who was an up and comer in the church world, he had fresh eyes and could see that what brought people to churches in the 1990’s was not attractive buildings (like it has been in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s), but it was that people needed to feel that the church cared for the community around them. This man saw that people were coming to church when the church came to them in their community by providing services and giving away information on what the church did.

He attempted to share this with the church leadership but because so many people were committed to (and had seen) the old model work effectively, they proceeded to upgrade their building hoping it would attract the people to the church.

The end result when the building upgrades where completed, as this pastor shared, was very few new people came to the church. For a few weeks they had some fresh visitors, but that was it. Within a month or two the church attendance was back to normal despite the thousands of dollars and many hours people worked to make the church upgrades. In the end, the old model was more destructive to the church than constructive because the labor of both staff and volunteers seems to have failed and left the people discouraged. 

Don’t be in love with a tactic, be in love with a message or a population.

When it comes to being committed to your mission and not being committed to a model, make sure you are in love with a message or a population.

For A Day of Hope this was always simple for us. We were in love of serving and helping people who needed food for Thanksgiving. We did not want to help with any other holiday or need, we were in love with that family who was having a tough time and needed a nice Thanksgiving meal they could enjoy as a family.

Because we were in love with a population, it always allowed our “model” of fundraising to change. Often from year to year it looked very different.

If you commit to the “what”, God will show you the “how”.

I think this statement was from the last part of Andy’s talk because he felt that people might not be believing that they can make a positive change in their organization because of the history and protectiveness of the models they might have. I think he was hoping to share that if we commit in our organization to the “what” of the model we need to change or move away from, God will show us “how” to do it. Because, changing the way people think about a model of what has been done can be very tough. People have lost their jobs over these things so we need to deal with it with sensitivity and tact.

Question: Is there a “couch” in your life or organization you need to remove? How do you plan to remove it?

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at