The Church is not a Corporation

Jan 8, 2024Archive, church

Ever since we began our marriage planting a church, we have been studying and observing church. We have experienced so many amazing bodies of believers all over the world, from French speakers in Montreal, to a group of students in Vietnam, to the wealthy of Monaco to the tenacious in Johannesburg. There is always something to glean, always another facet of church you learn.

I think of one couple faithfully serving an aging congregation without fanfare. I revel in the memory of another couple serving the underserved in southern Europe. Or my friends discipling small groups of twenty-somethings in their corner of the Alps. There is good work being done quietly.

I fear that we forget that the church is counterintuitive. It’s less spectacular and more mundane (love tucked into unseen spaces). It is not about bigger excellence as much as it is about small, unheralded obedience. it is not about splash and ever increasing popularity, but about being faithful in the long haul.

I fear we have conflated corporate goals with kingdom ways. The upside down nature of the church is that sometimes what looks like failure is often a counterintuitive success.

It is an American idea that if God is behind a movement, it will naturally prosper. Hebrews reminds us that there are many faithful who didn’t see success, but were faithful.

I am weary of churches run like the Fortune 500. I am tired of the show, to be honest. So I pray from my corner, participate in community, thank God for his worldwide body, and continue studying what it means to be the church in this ever-changing, oft-celebrity-and-success-driven culture.

Oh to be faithful without fanfare. To be satisfied with sacraments and friends who challenge me. To be rested, waiting on God. To be content in quiet places.

It’s where I am today.


  1. Desiree Taylor

    I love that we are having this conversation. I believe we have started to look too much like the world as we seek celebrity-like status and run churches like a business. When I look at Jesus, much of His ministry was personal and he often spoke one on one to those He was ministering to. He wasn’t looking for a fanfare. I want to be like Jesus.

  2. Lori Adams-Brown

    Preach. There are authors who nurture their smaller communities who are the voices being drowned out by some with large platforms of those whose grandiosity has blinded them from the power of presence.

    • Mary

      The older (hopefully wiser) I get, the more I value small spaces, small communities.

  3. Phyllis Yount

    Bravo! God faithfully walks alongside us as we do the often mundane and quiet giving of time and energy for God through the body of Christ, the church. I have found a new spirit of peace and joy through a small group of believers who speak the truth boldly and are doing so in a quiet and reverent manner. I am grateful.

    • Mary

      Love this so much, Phyllis.

  4. Bob Stoner

    Love this. Church is very often a business, a way of getting room bookings and hence income, rather than community of all. Church has been on a long journey and may need a pivotal change to reflect more closely Acts 2.

    • Mary

      Yes, agree about Acts 2.