Summary: How does a church continue when it loses the presence of the Holy Spirit?
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I have a good friend who pastors a church not far from ours. Not only does he pastor, but he and his family also own several small, but very successful, businesses in the Atlanta area with about 20 employees.
One day, while on our way to lunch, I asked him how his businesses were doing. Without hesitation, he replied that God could do nothing but bless his businesses.
He went on to explain that if our life, family, business or our ministry has been committed and dedicated to Christ, as well as directed by the Holy Spirit, God can do nothing but bless them. He told me that everything he has, has been established on and directed according to the principles set forth in scripture. The foundation of everything that God had entrusted to him is the Word of God.
The point he was making is simple yet profound. In his business, family and church, he has relinquished all control to God. He wasn’t suggesting that there hasn’t been problems, or that problems won’t arise in the future, but God is in control.
Another thing that I truly admire about his business practices is that every morning, two hours before the doors open, he and all of his employees meet for prayer, Bible study and daily devotion. No employee is exempt from this service. If you work for him, you must attend. Through these daily meetings, many in his employ have been led to the Lord.
If you think about it for just a minute, I’m sure you will agree that these are all basic elementary Christian principles. Yet, for the most part, these practices are not only overlooked in most churches, but the opposite is being promoted. It seems that we have slowly, but surely, slipped away from true biblical foundation, into the realm of secular marketeering. My friend had done everything he could to incorporate the principles of God’s Word into his secular business. His sole purpose was to insure God’s blessing, His presence and His glory in his company. Because we lack the same zeal for God, we seem to think that in order to increase church growth, we must incorporate the principles of secular business and marketing into our churches.
To accomplish this we must abandon the leadership of the Spirit and imitate the carnal business practices of the world. So, we now offer a product; a church, a ministry, a gospel, a Jesus.
In order to get our product into the hands and homes of a consumer oriented culture, we must continually brain storm for new and innovative promotional strategies. Our new goal is that the unchurched will not only find our product useful, but also non-threatening.
We must also be mindful that our product is continually promoted at a price that is competitive with the other churches in our area.
Sadly, many of America’s churches have become little more than a religious business. And at what cost?
Like most pastors, my mailbox never lacks advertisements from Christian marketing companies. We are continually bombarded with offers of demographic research, mailing lists, eye-catching mailers and door-hangers, pens and pencils, all to aid us in the marketing of our church.
It seems, we (pastors) have become consumed with our church. Building it, re-building it, dressing it up and making it attractive enough to draw people. All of our time, energy and resources are committed to this one goal. If someone was to ask us what our vision is for our church, we could answer in one word; BIG!
In and of itself, there is nothing
wrong with a big church, although this question still remains. At what cost? The focus of big business is not necessarily on their product. The product is just a means to an end. The focus is, and always has been, profit. If their product does not generate revenue and cannot be improved or modified to re-peak the consumer’s interest, it will soon be discontinued and forgotten. In the business world, success is always measured in dollars and cents.
In the religious world, it seems our focus is also dollars. We may never admit it, but nonetheless it is true. Many promote a gospel that is void of the power to change lives and yielded to a gospel that will attract numbers. Numbers, in the business of religion, always translates to revenue.
Hence, a new church/ministry bookkeeping term; "Giving Unit". No longer are we church members with a face and a name. No longer are we considered important to reach because of our spiritual needs and desires. No longer are we wept over and fasted for. However, you can find us on the bottom of the monthly financial report under "Giving Units".