Church is a business?

24 Jun

I ordered a book today.  One of my pastoral friends has highly recommended it, and it can’t come soon enough.

Why?

I get so freaking frustrated because I am running a business, the success of which is measured by numbers.  Those numbers are decreasing.  That gets me upset, even though I know that Jesus is not about numbers going up (think narrow way that few will find).  I still want to report numbers going up.  There is a part of me that doesn’t care that the church is using a business model, and that is not what Jesus ever wanted.  I still want success!  I’m addicted to it, I admit it.  And emotionally, it is very, very hard to let that go.  But I need to.  I need to focus on making disciples, so I’m really looking forward to the book!

The book?  Building A Discipling Culture by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram.  Want to join me in a study?

7 Responses to “Church is a business?”

  1. Sherri Patton June 24, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    I certainly could understand the frustration. Yes, it is a business. A business where people come to fulfill there spiritual needs, but along with those needs comes many other needs. And I can say from my heart, when those aren’t being fulfilled people go elsewhere. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how hard it is to manage the needs of a church. But the one thing I can say is,when there is division present it doesn’t help. I feel it/ see it. I would love to be a part of something like this, I have many Ideas that I think could help. I would also like to learn more.

    • joelkime June 24, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      I’m excited about reading the book, because I need to learn more too. It has been a couple years since I had a summer book club, but this might be the book to start it back up again.
      I see what you about business, in the sense of “what we do.” What concerns me is that the church is operating using the ideals and goals of the business world. First and foremost is our definition of success. In a business, success is almost always defined as increasing the bottom line, or in other words, making more money. Carrying that over to the church means the church is about higher attendances in our worship services and more money in the offering plate. I could describe many other ways that the business model has influenced the church as well.
      And yet, we have Jesus saying “Make disciples.” What is so frustrating for me, then, is all the time I spend “running a business” to the detriment of making disciples.

      • Sherri Patton June 24, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

        Yea, but don’t you think you kinda need some of those to keep it operating smoothly? I’m sure there is a very fine line there when dealing with this. At the same time comes this feeling of not knowing how to disciple? Where is the line there? Of being ” pushy” or judgmental. It all is confusing a lot of times. I often ponder, should I or shouldn’t I when I am about to talk to someone about God.

      • joelkime June 24, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

        Yes and no. If I we want to keep using an institutional model of church, then yes, we need to systems in place. But if we want an organic model, we don’t need nearly the amount of systems in place. For example, if we removed the necessity of a building, then think about what that would free us from. No need to pay thousands of dollars every year in energy and maintenance. It would certainly force us to think very differently about gathering space. The early church did not have meeting space dedicated to worship. That came a couple hundred years into the church’s history. They did, however, have some semblance of organizational systems. In Acts 6, for example, they set up a new level of leadership to handle their outreach to widows. We do not have to do exactly what they did. But what we learn in principle from them is a focus on mission rather than institution. Discipleship should be primary. And so your question is awesome: how should we make disciples? There are few questions of more importance! I’m glad you asked! For starters, would you be willing to skim through the Gospel accounts and make some brief notes as to how Jesus made disciples out the men he called to follow him? Let me know what you come up with!

      • Sherri Patton June 24, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

        It all sounds good. I would be glad to look those up! I Should be able tomorrow evening!
        Thanks.

  2. Lisa B June 25, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    You’re not the only one who struggles with this and is frustrated by low numbers and wanting to give a good report. I can understand why the idea of church as a business is accepted in churches but I personally think it leads us to a wrong view of what church is. If it’s a business, then you’re the CEO and the rest of us are underlings with no real responsibility or power except our own little division of labor, so to speak. And if we’re a business then we’re out to attract consumers or customers and we have to do whatever it takes to attract whatever it is people want. I can’t say for sure what Jesus would say about that, but it doesn’t sound like church as it was meant to be, to me. But if we’re not a business … then what are we? A body? Yes, but sometimes it’s hard to see that illustration. A community? I think that’s closer. A family? Whoa. Talk about a word that might bring out the best and worst in people’s minds! So, maybe none of that helps the discussion, but I think how we think of ourselves as a group will impact our ministry.

    • joelkime June 25, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      Agreed! It is very hard to define and then set out expectations. We’ve often joked about how we should maybe just live in a commune! I’m definitely looking forward to learning more through Building a Discipline Culture.

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