Is Your Church in the Wrong Business?

What is the core mission of the local church? I think we can learn something by looking at Peter Drucker’s two pivotal questions for business leaders:

  • What is your business?
  • How’s business?

These have always been difficult questions for the church to answer. In the middle ages through the Renaissance the church was in the Architecture Business. Cardinals and Popes built larger and more ornate cathedrals culminating in the massive St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The church was measured by the beauty of the art produced.

The question continued into the Sunday School years when we thought we were in the Education Business. We created classrooms and curriculum and attempted to teach the masses. The measure was knowledge.

Eventually we left the Education Business and moved into the Warehouse Business. The goal shifted from educating the masses to accumulating the masses. We built larger and larger facilities to store more and more members. The answer to question one was, “More!” and the answer to question two was, “Really good (for an ever growing number of mega-churches).

The Warehouse Business morphed into the Entertainment Business. To maximize our storage facilities we had to draw larger crowds with a better product. We created a cottage industry of professional videographers, graphic artists, sound engineers, musicians and lighting technicians around the need for an ever improving show. The artists guilds of the Renascence were reborn as worship schools. Business was now measured by both quantity and quality.

Recently another shift has begun as leaders discover their warehoused and entertained members live lives tragically similar to those outside the church. They are shackled by divorce, addiction and materialism just like their non-church attending neighbors. Architecture, Education, Warehousing and Entertainment have all fallen short of the goal of making biblical disciples, little Christs.

I think all of the past phases have a place in the overall purpose of the church. I believe in education, and artist development, and reaching as many people as possible with the Gospel. I believe that most leaders are sincere in their efforts to make disciples even if the outcome isn’t what they had hoped. I think the fundamental challenge is that we still haven’t answered Drucker’s questions.

  • I think we are in the Moving Business.
  • I think business is poor but improving.

I think our fundamental call as church leaders is to assist people in moving from where they are to where God is calling them. Every building, every program, every paid staff member engaged in the Moving Business. “How will this activity, this ministry, this sound system move people from where they are to where God is calling them?”

If we are in the Moving Business, then we probably need to stop simply measuring the beauty of our buildings, the education of our members, the number of people in our warehouses, or the awesomeness of our product. If we are in the Moving Business then our primary measure is movement; are our people moving from where they are to where God is calling them?

How would you answer Drucker’s questions? What business are you in? How’s business?

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Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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Recent Comments
I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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