Have you noticed over the last 20 years how churches have borrowed principles from the business community to develop and grow churches? As I understand it the idea is the corporate world has discovered ways to use structure and strategy to scale operations and take their products and services world-wide. Sounds like a good motivation for borrowing from the business realm to scale the impact of the church in the world, right?

I’m not so sure. There is a fundamental quality that every business must have to remain a business and if a church adopts this quality it will render it ineffective. What is that quality? What makes a business a business is the fact that someone offers goods or services to people they cannot provide for themselves or they don’t want to provide for themselves. If you take this mindset into the church we create new problems that have never been navigated and therefore continue to get propagated. If the church provides services that people cannot do or do not want to do for themselves, Houston, we have a problem.

We develop people who pay the pastor to read the Bible and tell them what God thinks and how they should live their lives according to the ways of God. May not sound to bad, right?! Kind of sounds like Moses in the Old Testament. That’s the problem. The New Covenant was intended to create a new breed of people in the earth. People that had a direct connection with the God-head through Jesus. A people who could read the Scriptures, hear God for themselves, and live out that truth with ease because of God’s grace. What happens if we over adopt the methods of business within the church we create competition among churches and people who need a professional to help them navigate life in God.

In no way am I saying that there should not be various levels of maturity in the church and people helping one another at those various stages. This is what the church should look like! But we need to re-evaluate any methods that create growth based on dis-empowering the majority in the name of some people’s calling to lead and direct. If we really want to learn from the business community, then I would suggest looking at the strategy and structure of business chambers or business coalitions.

In this setting you have a group of owners (or highly empowered people) coming together to discuss how each representative can play a role in developing community or city-wide strategies to increase the quality of life of it’s citizens. This is a wonderful idea! It’s a perspective that sees everyone as having something to contribute and no one at the table can just coast as everyone is there to contribute. And there is still leadership involved but in this setting it is more a facilitating role of making sure the plan and approach is comprehensive and thorough rather than one persons idea coming to life.

At the end of the day, churches were never intended to be businesses, because a business already satisfies that space in a city or culture. The church is a collection of people who operate more like a family who live for another’s benefit and help interested people move forward in the ways of Jesus without charging a premium for their services. The church includes people from every sphere of influence enjoying relationship with God and each other who leave their gatherings to advance the Kingdom of God in the place of influence they occupy. As Graham Cooke puts it, the church is the only organization on the planet that exists for the benefit of its non-members. The church was never intended to be a business; therefore, let us be careful what we take on board in the name of innovation, excellence, and culture relevance.