The concept of churches being run like a business has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, with many churches adopting marketing and management strategies that prioritise growth, profitability, and efficiency. While there are certainly benefits to running a church in a business-like manner, such as increased outreach, community engagement, and financial stability, there are also potential downsides to this approach that merit critical consideration.
One of the key concerns associated with churches being run like a business is that it can lead to a shift in priorities away from spiritual growth and towards metrics of success that are more secular in nature. For example, churches may become more focused on increasing attendance, revenue, and brand recognition than on fostering meaningful relationships with their congregants or pursuing a deeper understanding of God’s will. This can result in a hollowing out of the spiritual core of the church and a loss of authenticity that can ultimately drive people away.
Another issue with running a church like a business is that it can create power imbalances and promote authoritarianism, particularly if the leadership structure is centralised and hierarchical. This can lead to a lack of accountability and transparency, as well as a reluctance to challenge authority or speak out against abuses of power. Moreover, it can foster a culture of competition and comparison that is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus, who stressed the importance of humility, service, and community.
In terms of what Jesus said about churches being run like businesses, there are several passages in the Bible that offer insights into his views on leadership and stewardship. One of the most well-known of these is the Parable of the Good Shepherd, in which Jesus describes himself as the shepherd who knows his sheep by name and is willing to lay down his life for them. This suggests that the primary role of a church leader is not to accumulate wealth or prestige, but rather to care for and nurture the members of the community.
Another relevant passage is the story of Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple, which highlights the danger of turning sacred spaces into marketplaces. This suggests that the pursuit of profit and commercial gain can be at odds with the spiritual mission of a church and that there is a need for boundaries and accountability when it comes to matters of money and resources.
In conclusion, while there are certainly advantages to running a church in a business-like manner, there are also potential risks and downsides that should not be overlooked. By prioritising growth, profitability, and efficiency over spiritual growth and community building, churches run the risk of becoming shallow, insular, and authoritarian. Instead, leaders should strive to follow the example of Jesus, who emphasised the importance of love, service, and humility in all aspects of life.