More Thoughts About the Church as a Body, not a Business

Here are some more thoughts about my recent post, Church is a Family, not a Business.

One reason it’s important to maintain this distinction, and to realize that we have – consciously or not – adopted the business mindset, is that it has serious ramifications for what we do.

A business has a mission. It needs to increase market share. It has employees, a product, and customers. If you run a church as business, you will inevitably think that you need to “sell” your product, which is _your church_, to your “customers”, who are the people who don’t go to your church.

I know it’s not expressed that way. We _say_ that we are spreading the gospel. But these things are always expressed in terms of attendance and giving, not conversions, and for all our innovations we haven’t increased the proportion of professing Christians in this country. We’re reshuffling the sheep, that’s all.

But what is the purpose of a _family_? A family exists basically to take care of itself. The family grows through marriage and children, and that is good and necessary, but growth is not the purpose. The family exists for the family.

The church is not a missions organization, nor is it a Bible study. It _does_ those things, but they are not its definition. Jesus could have used many illustrations to teach us what the church is. He could have described it as a machine, or a business, or a sports team, or an army. But He didn’t. We are a bride. A family. A body.

We put way too much emphasis on figuring out who the feet are and making sure they stay in the shoe, so we can go for a jog, rather than weeping with those who weep, rejoicing with those who rejoice, and loving and honoring one another.

Someone has complained that churches that are not run as corporations can be frustrating, and indeed they can. I’ve been frustrated before. Maybe some people do need to be quietly and privately spoken to about the reasons they oppose certain changes. But on the other hand, maybe it’s a good opportunity for us to learn to submit to one another. That saintly lady who has been running the nursery entirely unlike a daycare for years – well, maybe we submit and defer to her and avoid hurting her feelings by charging in with new ideas and new workers. Perhaps she deserves some more respect. I know she does. To this day, she won’t have anything to do with the nursery. Shame on us.

There is an elderly couple that sits behind us, usually, at church. Sunday before last I noticed that they only sang a couple of the songs. That was all they were familiar with. The youth was rocking and clapping and having a grand time. And the church members who ought to be the _most_ honored and respected, stood quietly. We’re all about yuppies and youth, and who cares about the old people. They’ll be dead soon anyway.

This is not the way we run our families. We honor our parents and grandparents. We are patient with one another. We defer to one another all the time. Why isn’t church that way?

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