This article has become quite popular. I have edited it for clarity. 8/16/17
Critique of this article…
There is no doubt that the 21st century church is taking many cues from its business counterparts. It is a growing influence that has developed over decades. The 1960s saw the dawn of the Church Growth movement bringing the use of research to church planning. We were already in Laodicea by 1960s. The worst apostasy of the church age (Rev 3). The megachurch movement then brought greater resources, larger staffs, and intricate marketing campaigns among many other business-esque elements. In time, many churches began hiring Administrative and Executive Pastors in place of Associate Pastors. Today, business experience is nearly as valuable as a seminary degree within church staffing.Valuable to whom? God? Or to your pragmatic approach to church building?
All of this change has led some to resist any notion of business principles within church ministry. Bible believers who go by the Bible whether it lines up with “business principles” or not… It is not uncommon to hear a pastor argue that the church is not and should not be run like a business. I just can’t help but disagree. Given the words that Jesus spoke while on earth, there a few ways I’m convinced He does want our churches to be run more like good businesses:
Businesses stay focused on reaching new markets.
“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” (Luke 4:43)
Jesus refused to stay in Capernaum because he was focused on reaching other people. Good businesses also seek ways to reach groups of people with whom they have not yet connected.
What opportunities does your church have to connect with new markets?On this point there is little disagreement.
Businesses hold employees accountable.
“A servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished.” (Luke 12:47)
Too often, churches hesitate to fire employees out of a desire to practice grace. Our mission in the world is way too important to waste time and money on a problematic team member. Who defines “problematic”? There are lots of “problematic” people in the Bible, like Noah, Samuel, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, Micaiah, and Nehemiah. In fact most of the great people of the Bible would have been called “problematic” by the organizations around them. Sometimes the best way to show people grace is to carefully but honestly help them take a step beyond your organization. That is modern doublespeak. Something the Lord is not interested in. If they are going against the Bible; show them. If they refuse to be Biblical, fire them and don’t be “careful” about it. God’s word is at stake and that is more important than any “organization”.
How many lives will go unchanged because you have the wrong person on your team? It makes it all about numbers. Do you see what this author’s goals really are? Doing what God wants you to do is all that matters. The results are the Lord’s and they are not a result of you manipulating the situation. That is the difference between a Biblical church and a business. The ends justify the means in a business, not in a church.
Businesses make plans before they commit to projects.
“For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” (Luke 14:28)
In a good business, your idea doesn’t get approval until you can show how it will work, why it will work, and how much it will cost. Too often, churches approve ideas without fully considering the ramifications. Do you see the “gain is godliness” attitude? This attitude would condemn most the great men of Scripture including Christ himself. Christ spent his whole ministry condemning the religious leaders of his day. That is how you get crucified, not accolades. The author’s ideas condemn his own Saviour.
To what level of detail do your leaders plan ahead before they begin new projects? Only question that matters: what does God say about it? This author doesn’t give a flip about that. He acts like a Jesuit.
Businesses stop things that aren’t yielding results.
“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away…” (John 15:2)
Healthy businesses take intentional steps to eliminate activities that do not contribute to a clear bottom line. That is why modern churches dumped the KJV, cross bearing, street preaching, and telling sinners that they are going to hell. All things we are COMMANDED to preach. That is where this mentality ends up: Laodicea, “gain is godliness”, and right back to your “mother” Rome… Molding the message to the masses and God is on the outside looking in. Many churches waste resources keeping nonperforming ministry programs on life support. That’s not how God would look at it.
Which of your ministry programs is not bearing real fruit? What was the Lord’s fruit during his lifetime? His disciples forsook him. Same with Paul. they were failures by today’s business standards. The author would have dumped them because of their lack of fruit. This proves that he is an idiot.
Businesses are responsible for demonstrating a return to their investors.
“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” (Luke 12:48)
Unfortunately, many churches teach stewardship better than they practice it. I disagree that they teach it or practice it. Good businesses understand that their money was provided by investors who expect to see something come of it. Church givers also want to see that their gifts are producing fruit. There are a lot of places they could be sowing their seed to further the Kingdom.
How would you feel if your church members received a quarterly report showing how you spent their money and the results it produced? That’s your problem you are not looking at the Judgment Seat of Christ, you are looking for advancements down here. When you do that you will get rewards down here, but NOT up here. Your choice. This author has made his choice.
So would Jesus want churches to operate more like businesses? Certainly not in every way. But I have a feeling that many church leaders could better live out the teachings of Jesus by becoming students of business operations. That’s his problem, he is going by his “feeling”. We walk by faith. Our faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ and in his Book. This author goes by pragmatism. He thinks that “whatever works” is best. Ultimately this is the philosophy of the Devil himself and not Christ.
What do you think? Should churches really be run more like businesses? Share your own thoughts in a comment below…