If the church were indeed a business, then a pastor would be wise to view his occupation much as any businessperson sees their career. The goal would be to improve skills, land the role of greatest influence, gain the most responsibility, and be rewarded by the best compensation package, all while residing in the most livable city.
To many worshipers, the church is like a business.
They choose their spiritual home on the basis of the goods and services they will receive, much as a consumer chooses a retail store. This means the modern pastor is tempted to grow his church by offering better services than his competitors (other churches) in what is statistically a shrinking market.
To make matters even more challenging, every local church now has the potential to become global via the internet and the multisite movement. This means that a local church pastor may lose members not only to the most innovative and effective church in the neighborhood, but also to the most innovative and effective in the world. A church on the other side of the globe can now be effectively “in the neighborhood.” This dynamic produces greater pressure for a pastor to lead the church like an entrepreneur drives a business, and more pastors than ever are surely discouraged, exhausted, and disillusioned.
The modern pastor is tempted to grow his church by offering better services than his competitors.
But I wonder how many pastors, while criticizing members for seeing the church as a business enterprise, are being hypocritical? How many pastors are guilty of not only playing into that false model of church, but also perpetuating it? All you have to do is look at a pastor’s updated resume to see if he is merely living out the ugly flip side of Christian consumerism: the career-minded pastor.
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