What is the core mission of the local church? I think we can learn something by looking at Peter Drucker’s two pivotal questions for business leaders:
- What is your business?
- How’s business?
These have always been difficult questions for the church to answer.
In the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, the church was in the Architecture Business. Cardinals and Popes built larger and more ornate cathedrals culminating in the massive St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The church was measured by the beauty of the art produced.
The question continued into the Sunday School years when we thought we were in the Education Business. We created classrooms and curriculum and attempted to teach the masses. The measure was knowledge.
Eventually we left the Education Business and moved into the Warehouse Business. The goal shifted from educating the masses to accumulating the masses. We built larger and larger facilities to store more and more members. The answer to question one was, “More!” and the answer to question two was, “Really good” (for an ever growing number of mega-churches).
The Warehouse Business morphed into the Entertainment Business. To maximize our storage facilities we had to draw larger crowds with a better product. We created a cottage industry of professional videographers, graphic artists, sound engineers, musicians and lighting technicians around the need for an ever improving show. The artists guilds of the Renascence were reborn as worship schools. Business was now measured by both quantity and quality.
Recently, another shift has begun as leaders discover their warehoused and entertained members live lives tragically similar to those outside the church. They are shackled by divorce, addiction and materialism just like their non-church attending neighbors. Architecture, Education, Warehousing and Entertainment have all fallen short of the goal of making biblical disciples, little Christs.
I think all of the past phases have a place in the overall purpose of the church. I believe in education, and artist development, and reaching as many people as possible with the Gospel. I believe that most leaders are sincere in their efforts to make disciples even if the outcome isn’t what they had hoped.
I think the fundamental challenge is that we still haven’t answered Drucker’s questions.
- I think we are in the Moving Business.
- I think business is poor, but improving.
I think our fundamental call as church leaders is to assist people in moving from where they are to where God is calling them. Every building, every program, every paid staff member should be engaged in the Moving Business. “How will this activity, this ministry, this sound system move people from where they are to where God is calling them?”
If we are in the Moving Business, then we probably need to stop simply measuring the beauty of our buildings, the education of our members, the number of people in our warehouses, or the awesomeness of our product. If we are in the Moving Business, then our primary measure is movement; are our people moving from where they are to where God is calling them?
How would you answer Drucker’s questions? What business are you in? How’s business?