Sunday, May 21, 2006

Good Business

Charles E. Wilson has been quoted (incorrectly) as saying, “What is good for General Motors is good for America.” For the past few decades, many have assumed that “what is good for General Motors is good for the church.”

But the church is not a business.

Yes, there are some aspects of church life that resemble business. And we can learn principles from business that we might choose to apply in the church. But to run the church as if it were a business is somewhere between dangerous and blasphemous.

David Fitch in The Great Giveaway explains, “Effectiveness and efficiency draw their agendas from American cultural forces that define success in terms of numbers, size, and capital. This kind of effectiveness may be alien to Christ’s church” (p. 28).

Here is another powerful statement, “The church is much more than the machinery that produces decisions for Christ” (p. 39).

He suggests some ways to measure “faithfulness to God’s call to be the church.”

He suggests that we count baptisms rather than decisions, that we develop qualitative measures of community, and that we focus on planting new churches rather than on growing big churches.

I find his identification of the problem spot on. However, I find his answer sketchy at best.

This is an issue that has concerned me for some time. I admit that I have no easy answers. But I do know that much of the church is headed down the wrong road using the wrong roadmap and is keeping track of how many miles it has gone as a measure of success.

What do you think?

Pastor Rod

“Helping you become the person God created you to be”


mark o wilson said...

You know you're going down the wrong road, when you end up where you don't want to be.

Where churches want to be -- at least in their theorizing, is at the place of loving people to Jesus, helping them to grow in spiritual maturity, and then, sending them into the world to make a difference.

Whatever methods (roads) that help a church best accomplish that aim should be embraced and utilized for maximum impact,

Lessons learned from the business, political, and sports arenas are dead ends in themselves. They can, however, inform us concerning how to lead our people better towards the fulfillment of the mission.

Pastor Rod said...


I agree with what you say. But there is a subtle danger here that is often overlooked. Just as Marshall McLuhan showed us that the medium is the message, the methods we use often have hidden assumptions.

Even thinking about the church in business terms is problematic.