In our local newspaper there are stories from the “religious” beat in every Saturday edition. Recently there were two articles that set me thinking they belonged in the business section.
First was titled “On God’s Mission” and it was all about local churches’ adoption of mission statements in order to “define the church’s reason for existence.” Speaking about one local congregation’s process of developing a mission statement, the article pointed out that the effort “not only led the church to define goals, but also to crystallize personal tenets of faith.”
The concluding paragraph of the article:
Apparently for a growing number of church leaders, mission statements are as high-powered as searchlights to help congregations define and find their way.
Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a church having a mission statement as long as it’s in line with the Bible, but as the conclusion above clearly indicated, a growing number of churches and
their members don’t know what they’re doing and Christ doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of the thinking process.
How bad must things be in a “Christian” church if it needs to work out its reason for existence? In such a setting the mission statement is a marketing ploy to gain customers. The pastor / preacher has an important position but ultimately has an audience of One that is to be pleased. There is only one Customer.
The second article is titled “Trying to save churches is a growing business.” Good grief! The article tells of consultants described as “professional church saviors.” A professional savior – how nice. Gotta hire me one of those.
Dying churches (financially dying, perhaps spiritually dead already) hire these saviors to figure out if the pastor and/or building are necessary, to see if the church can “ditch” Sunday morning services for more convenient times, etc. The challenge, they say, is to stop fixating on rules and get people engaged. People have no interest in sitting in pews and listening to sermons.
As I was reading the article I was thinking to myself, “These guys are rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” and then (I am not making this up) the article described a suggestion made to one church to “chang[e] seats in the sanctuary from rows to a circle.” Well, that should fix everything! When that church sinks, it will go down neatly arranged with its customers engaged.
Both articles are business-oriented. Both articles portray Christianity as pointless (intentionally or not).
Reading Eagle, December 4, 2010. “On God’s mission” p. D1.
Reading Eagle, December 4, 2010. “Trying to save churches is a growing business.” p. D5.
~ John Bingaman