Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Church is a Family, Not a Business!

I live in a town in which the most influential company is SC Johnson, whose tagline is, "A family company". While I hear lots of nice things about this company, the fact is, it's still a corporation and not really a family.

Lately, I keep running across this little aphorism, "The Church is a family, not a business!" And it rings true.

So it got me to thinking about how a family is DIFFERENT from a business:
  • A family is based on relationships of love. A business is based on numbers and profits.
  • A family is about who you are. A business is about what you do.
  • The family is instituted by God. A business is founded by man.
  • The family is structured to reflect deep truths about our relationship with God - we are his children, we are part of Christ's bride. A business is structured for maximum efficiency toward the goal of producing and profiting.
  • A family thrives when it is spiritually strong. A business doesn't care about things spiritual.
  • Membership in a family is permanent. Employment at a business isn't so sure.
  • Families value each individual as equal members. Businesses pay employees based on value to the company.
Like families, churches have squabbles and tensions, and sometimes even that crazy uncle. We sin against each other, but hopefully reconcile under the cross. Dysfunctional churches are like dysfunctional families, and growing up in one can be just as damaging. But as a haven for the hurting and a place to learn what love is all about - the church is very much a family. We are God's children in Jesus Christ. We are Christ's bride, the church. We are loved by him and we love each other for Jesus' sake. We are HIS family, and he is the head of the household.

So why do so many want to make church a business? While some lessons can translate from the business world into the family (or the church), there is a real danger of "going corporate". Perhaps it's our American obsession with "success" that drives it. Or maybe its our declining ability as a culture to make distinctions. Certainly, we can point modern Evangelicalism which has imported business models and ideas and language into churches. Is it confusion about what the church is? Is it a lack of trust in churchly things to solve the church's problems?

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