Corporation Church

Jun 26, 2014Kingdom Uncaged

My husband and I talk theology. Sexy, right? I think so.

Recently I brought up a particularly inflammatory issue within the church, both bothered and niggled by the discussion of it around the internets. We spoke at length about the particular issue-du-jour, about God’s bigness in comparison to our smallness to understand the issue, but ultimately about God’s sovereignty over all.

I still felt uneasy and unsettled in the conversation. It’s not an issue that is easily figured out. And that’s when hubby said this:

“To be honest, I’m not so worried about Issue X as I am about the church being run like a corporation. I think we’ll have to answer to that far more than our handling of Issue X.”


His words have stuck in my head for several weeks.

I wonder if I even know what a church is like if it’s not run like a corporation. Since I met Jesus, I’ve attended church in various degrees and denominations. All had structures and hierarchies. All sported organization.

But I have noticed more and more that the business books I read seem to apply or reflect church models these days (house churches notwithstanding) with greater clarity. We must have goals, vision, objectives, strategies. We must plot our growth, look at our statistics of member acquisition, and create ways to improve those processes. We must place logic and business practices as tantamount in the way we inaugurate and sustain our churches.

We have buildings to maintain, after all. Budgets to meet. Salaries to pay. Benefits to give. People to minister to.

I’m not writing this to disparage our current churches. I attend a large church with structure aplenty.

But when I refer to church, I honestly don’t think of the big building, the sound system, or the annual budget meeting. I think of our church within a church, our life group, that ministers to my husband and family, even as we lead it. That’s where the organic nature of church comes for us. In relationships. In sacrifice. In giving so another doesn’t have a lack. In bringing food to the grieving, prayers for the hurting, a note to those who struggle.

The church isn’t a corporation to be run efficiently. (Click to tweet this.) Elders need not be business people first, but folks who love Jesus with a devoted, infectious passion. The church, after all, is an organism, alive, beating with the blood of Jesus through the joints and marrow of people. It is not board meetings and hiring processes and budgets.

No, it’s doing the paradoxical, giving from our lack, inconveniencing ourselves.

Pastor aren’t CEOs. They are shepherds (Click to tweet), tasked with guarding, blessing, and serving the flock God’s entrusted to him/her.

CEO church does not embody Jesus’ heart for the world. He simply asks that we follow Him, share His love, and plant churches by making disciples, however that may look in the context we’re planting in. While it’s good to be strategic and think through logistics, it’s even better to allow the Holy Spirit to trump it all and do His sometimes counterintuitive work.

Because if the church is simply another company, viewing people as commodities to manage, then it’s lost its edge, and it is devoid of power. The mighty church of Jesus Christ is blatantly and joyfully countercultural, clashing with the normative structures of the day, a beacon on a hill, a conclave of Jesus lovers, hard to tame, difficult to quantify.

What do you think? Will our generation be judged by the way we manage our churches? Has church become more like a corporation than a body? What can we do about it?

(This is a re-post from Deeper Story)