I have a strong aversion to the church being run like a business. Perhaps it has something to do with Jesus flipping tables over in the temple:
And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”
-John 1:14-16 (NASB)
This is a picture of Jesus we rarely hear about.
We see Jesus as the Good Shepherd who seeks for, loves, and protects His sheep. We see Him as the One who heals the sick and sets the oppressed free. We see Him embracing children and loving women whom society has cast out. We see Him teaching the multitudes and pouring into His disciples.
But, angry Jesus? Flipping over tables and using a whip to drive people from the temple?
When the disciples saw Jesus in this state of righteous anger they were reminded of what is written in Psalms 69:9: “Zeal for Your house will consume Me.” What caused this type of passionate zeal? Simply put, the house of God had been turned into a business.
Read the words of Jesus again: “Stop making my Father’s house a place of business.” These words ought to put the fear of the Lord into every pastor and ministry leader; they should cause those of us leading churches to sincerely evaluate our approach. Have we—especially in the Western church—turned the Father’s house into a business?
When the church becomes a business:
-Pastors function more like CEOs
-Members are turned into customers
-Other churches are seen as competition
-Evangelism is reduced to marketing
-Church planting looks more like franchising
-Numbers are the primary measure of success
-Prayer and fasting is replaced by programs and formulas
-Preaching sounds more like motivational speaking
-Worship is turned into a performance
-The saints are entertained instead of equipped
-Disciples of Christ become disciples of a church brand
-A living organism becomes a lifeless organization
-A leader’s empire is built instead of the kingdom of God advanced
Does any of this sound familiar?
Don’t get me wrong; there is certainly a financial element to leading a church. Even Jesus took donations and had a money bag. I am not opposed to healthy structure, budgets, or processes within a church model. And I do not believe that the size of a church is the issue here.
But I am afraid we have adopted church models in America that do not require the presence and power of God in order to be “effective.” We have taken our cues more from the world than the Word, and have often allowed the appearance of success keep us from true, lasting fruit. A church model that “works” whether or not God is involved should alarm us; and reminds me more of building the tower of Babel than the house of God.
Let’s get back to the Word of God and the presence of God. Let’s get back to the power and leading of the Holy Spirit. Let’s get back to prayer, evangelism, and discipleship. Let’s get back to the kingdom of God.
Let’s make sure that when Jesus comes to visit our churches, it’s not to flip tables over!