Programs and lifestyle are the main repositories of culture in a community. Programs are optional. Lifestyles are not. The person who declines to participate in a program still gets to sit in the audience at the awards ceremony. The person who declines to participate in a lifestyle is excluded from the flow of community life.
In the church we have plenty of programs — a temple program, a scouting program, a missionary program, a youth program, etc. We also have a lifestyle, one that is built on Sunday meeting attendance. A person who attends Sunday meetings is (more or less) plugged into the church community, even if he or she ignores all of the other programs.
Conversely, a person who participates in all the programs but never comes to church on Sunday (hypothetically speaking that is — obviously you’d have a hard time getting a temple recommend or serving a full-time mission if you don’t attend Sunday meetings) is not likely to hold an effective place in the community consciousness. (Yes, I know there are exceptions to this rule. However, a quick perusal through a list of less-active members will show that most of them are essentially unknown to anyone in the ward.)
Program and lifestyle are both purpose-focused. They both have cultural structure and hierarchy. The key to distinguishing between them is that programs are socially optional, while lifestyle is not.
Programs address diversity in a community. Recall the finding that friendships are based more on shared interest than shared affiliation. This fact, I believe, helps explain the social dysfunctionality found in many wards — an ingrained institutional expectation that everyone will have interest in every church program due to our shared affiliation.
Understanding the role of programs — promoting enrichment and development by appealing to individual interests — is one of the keys to maintaining cohesion in a diverse community. To my mind, one approach to addressing the needs of the diverse members of an intentional community is to offload as much cultural expectation as possible from lifestyle to program, while retaining enough in lifestyle to maintain the fundamental values of the community.