Leaving Church, Inc…Again

The following is a repost of the original entry of this blog. That was six years ago. Wow. And I find it still rings true today. I’ve grown a great deal in these half dozen years. I’ve had multiple conversations with church leaders and numerous opportunities to put into practice the things of which I am now convinced are proper for the church today. I have much more to share. Join me as we begin afresh in renewing our missional purpose.

So, what’s up with church these days?

Has anyone else noticed no matter how innovative, creative, or novel the church tries to be, it winds up the topic of the latest church growth “how-to” bestseller? I mean, isn’t it a major part of the mission of the church to impact its culture instead of creating a culture of its own? It seems the more the church attempts to give the appearance of reaching out, the less outreach occurs. Church becomes less of an organism and more of an organization. It tries to adapt marketing strategies and business principles and gauges success by numbers (production). Leadership transitions from a service attitude to a management attitude. Pastors are replaced by CEO’s. The mission shifts ever so quietly from building the kingdom to building an empire. Welcome to Church, Inc.

“Yeah, that’s how all those bigger churches are, and especially those monstrous mega-churches!” Wait a minute–Church, Inc. is indifferent to size, style, culture, or location. Church, Inc. exists in mega-churches, county seat churches, tiny rural churches, emergent churches, “traditional” churches, cowboy churches, “contemporary” churches, seeker-sensitive churches, charismatic churches, independent fundamental churches, northern churches, southern churches…you get the idea. Church, Inc. is way more about an attitude, mindset, and value set of what church is, how it is to be expressed, and how it carries out its mission than anything else. Any church anywhere can be bogged down in the machinery that is Church, Inc.

For church-experienced people, it’s become like the song by the Newsboys, Lost the Plot. We’ve lost the plot of our mission, so like a bad movie whose scenes make no sense, we begin to obssess about playing our roles while having no clue how our part fits in the story. We are content to go through the motions of church activity that may (or may not) have life-changing impact on others. Churches that are subsidiaries of Church, Inc. pour all their energies into methodology and meetings, but have lost sight of the mission. Oh, we’ve got some humdinger programs, ministries, multimedia, worship bands, and light shows! And yeah, we’ve got tradition, and the old paths, the plaques on the pews, the pictures of our forefathers in the foyer, and the “we’ve never done it that way before, and we ain’t gonna start now” pride! We’ve got the mechanisms we need for “church”–but we don’t seem to have the mission. We have lost the plot.

Church, Inc. is about our meetings and gatherings, not so much about people and relationships. It’s more about production than it is about genuine discipleship. It’s more about an event, a location, a time of the week, than it is about a daily lifestyle. It’s more about conforming than it is about transforming. Friends, Church, Inc. is killing the church. We’ve got to leave it.