Ecclesiastical Misconception #6

I’ve addressed this misconception previously:  (Here!) – but it’s a song that still needs to be sung, so here goes…

Ecclesiastical Misconception #6: The Church is a Business

I believe we become confused because there are things in common between businesses and churches (spreadsheets, budgets, etc.). Yet, the same folks who assert that the church is a business would likely never say the same about a family, and yet many families I know have budgets. There are others I know that SHOULD have budgets, but that’s for another day.

This argument on my part was countered once by someone who stated that the difference was the presence of employees… that having employees is what made something a business. Ironic in that I knew the young woman who was currently his babysitter and being paid quite well for her efforts. I know (I hope?) he’d never consider his family a corporation.

A better, if not perfect metaphor, is to describe the church as a family. Certainly, it’s the metaphor underlying the scripture where Paul refers to us siblings. Some denominations even lean on that imagery in how they title their leaders (Father/Mother and Brother So-and-So).

Does all this matter?

It does in that one of the implicit goals of a business is to remain in business… something which doesn’t work well with the sacrificial understanding of the church spreading the Gospel even at the risk of its own life.[1]

It does in that how we see ourselves as a body changes how we see those next to us in the pew as well as those outside the walls. All too often the undercurrent of evangelism is not the hope of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ but instead the desire to bring in more energy/money to sustain our own fellowship.

It does in that there are things family will do for one another – things that family will put up with – that show that the grace of God is the bottom line. Businesses often can’t afford grace, family depends on it.

Next time you find yourself sitting in a pew (may that be soon!) think about how you are connected to those around you… as well as those outside the doors. Business partners/clients… or family?

May grace abound.


[1] Book of Order, F-1.0301  “The Church is to be a community of faith, entrusting itself to God alone, even at the risk of losing its life.”

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