Churchgoers pay little attention to how their churches are run. Most don’t realize that every church has adopted a model from which to operate. Not all models, however, are created equally—or Biblically.
At its most basic, a model is a plan. For example, a business model guides the successful operation of a business by identifying its revenue sources and customer bases. There are different kinds of business models; but at its core, the fixed purpose of any business is profit. To meet this end, businesses choose models that emphasize customer satisfaction and efficiency above all else.
Customer satisfaction and efficiency are central to church operations as well, but Christians balk at the thought of adopting business models for their organizations. Instead, they create church models. Modern church models, however, are close kin to the consumer-driven models of businesses. For instance, many churches have adopted marketing strategies and targeted specific audiences. In addition, they are plagued by financial concerns such as staffing and building costs.
How much should the church concern herself with buildings, butts and budgets, as the saying goes? I venture to say not as much as she does.
The drive for customer satisfaction—predominately manifested through program development—in our churches has led to an imbalance in the relationship between congregants and the institution; which has led to a culture of entitlement and instant gratification among churchgoers. As a result, church leaders must attempt to placate the masses in order to avoid losing people. Losing people means loss of revenue, and this puts the church at risk of having to permanently close its doors. The unpalatable reality is that for many churches closing its doors is more fearsome than losing souls for Christ. It’s an insatiable cycle, but one that can be fixed by changing the model from which the church operates.
Up to this point, I have focused on the business aspect of church models. I did this primarily because business concerns, like noxious weeds, start out small and inevitably dominate church planning activities.
I agree that we must concern ourselves with meeting locations. We must also think about the people involved in our churches and the roles they play. Additionally, if the mission of the church is to produce DiscipleMakers, then we must also consider the delivery methods of content material, cultural relevance and diversity, different learning styles, and motivational factors for individuals. These aspects of church functionality are addressed and can be successfully applied through a different model than what is currently being used in most churches.
The model I’m proposing as the only model your church will ever need is also the most Biblical. It is an educational model.
An educational model eliminates the need for business jargon like leadership, staff, and programs because it severs the incestuous relationship between business models and church models. Instead, the mission of the church is streamlined by replacing those ideas with the singular focus of discipleship.
An educational model rightly places a DiscipleMaker in the role of teacher and disciples as students. DiscipleMakers are responsible for teaching the content of Christianity, specifically the Gospel message and the Bible. They must also teach their disciples how to teach, so that the disciples can become DiscipleMakers. Applying an educational model is the most effective way to accomplish these aims.
I will post more about educational models in the upcoming weeks. You can sign up to receive email updates directly to your inbox so you don’t miss future posts. When you sign up, you get a FREE gift! I will send you a copy of 7 Distinctives of DiscipleMakers as a downloadable PDF.