It’s becoming very popular to teach church growth and leadership principles using ideas from successful businesses.
Some of the titles of books and articles I’ve seen lately include, What The Church Can Learn From...
- Harley Davidson
- Marvel Movies
- Japanese Management
- Marketing Experts
Despite the best intentions of these writers, I’m becoming more and more convinced that trying to bring renewal to our churches by adapting business ideas is at best ineffective, and at worst, potentially damaging to our souls, spirits and mission.
Business Ideas Won’t Fix The Church
I agree that we can learn from a variety of sources. For instance, I recently read an Inc.com article about how Chipotle revitalized their restaurants after having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year in 2017.
I had a momentary thought about writing an article about how churches can learn from Chipotle’s turnaround.
Then the moment passed.
Here’s why. The three ways Chipotle turned their company around, according to the article, were
- Emotionally intelligent marketing
For a restaurant.
It’s tempting to want to find church parallels for them.
But if your church is in trouble, I beg you not to give into the temptation to think your church problems will be solved by doing church versions of what Chipotle did, such as
- A cool, new coffee station in the lobby (modernization)
- Hiring a new staff member (talent)
- Better use of social media (emotionally intelligent marketing)
None of those are bad things. The church I serve has done all three at various times. But none of them were the cause of our church getting or staying healthy.
Churches Aren’t Businesses – Or They Shouldn’t Be
The issue is not that we shouldn’t use solid business principles or learn from well-run companies. Of course we should.
The problem is that the church isn’t a business, so the solution for a successful church turnaround won’t be found in the latest business trends. They’ll only be found by renewing our dedication to scriptural principles for health, integrity, worship, discipleship, relationships, outreach and ministry.
It won’t be found by looking in new places, but by looking deeper into the oldest places of all.
Scripture, prayer, worship, fellowship, ministry, discipleship.