This has been said before, and I’m not the first to say it, but today I want to get out a soap box. You can disagree with me, tell me I’m wrong and crazy, but this is something I feel strongly about. In the SBC, we are the “people of the Book” and we say the Bible is sufficient, but there is one area I see we don’t live it. I have torn a page out of the handbook for cooperate America and grafted it in our New Testament. That is this fascination with purpose statements, mission statements, vision casting and marketing. It’s become ludicrous how much we would rather look like GE or IBM than like the body of Christ.
OK, here is issue number one, and for me it’s a biggie. Jesus is the head, He’s the boss. He’s in charge of the entire church from the universal down to the local church level. Jesus is the head, the boss, the man in charge, He gave us our mission and purpose. What business do we have rewriting what the boss already gave? Great Commission, it’s the vision, it’s the purpose, that’s it. We don’t need to recraft one, Jesus wrote it and it’s sufficient. Did Jesus botch it? Do we need to fix what Jesus wrote? We get all antsy that Jesus didn’t include the 5 Purposes, if they were that important, Jesus would have said it. Pastor Rick Warren is a nice guy, met him a few years ago, but he’s not Jesus. Jesus gave us Mission, Purpose, Vision, wrapped it all up. If you need more, throw in Acts 1:8.
Number two we do vision casting, a vision caught from the Pastor and giving control from Christ to the lead pastor. I believe that God will lead and speak too a pastor, but I also believe in the priesthood of the believer, a plurality of elders, individuals who hear from God. I believe in cooperate prayer and God moving His body. I have seen pastors become tyrants in their visions, moving churches to bankruptcy, division, even death. Peach the Word fellas, stop using scripture to promote your agenda. God will cast vision in the people through His word, and it will cause much less division.
Third, cooperate expansion. How we love the mega church. It’s big business, we love to promote our mega church pastors cause big church = success. If at the end of three years you are abandoned and people want you put to death, you have failed. Yes, that wasn’t subtle at all. Jesus would be a failure in our modern paradigm. The new movement is muti-site, multi campus so we can lead and be in control of bigger and better. We want our vision, our mission, our leadership and our strategy to be spread, after all, we are successful, right? We have adopted a cooperate/franchise model of success where more money and more people is a win. That isn’t what I see in the New Testament, I see Paul training new leaders, leaving them in charge, encouraging them, teaching them, but planting new churches. We need to give new leaders and new churches an opportunity to reach new people.
OK, last one I promise. We are totally in love with Christian books on how to grow a church like a business or a sports team. We use cooperate training, cooperate alignment, cooperate principles and we have strayed from New Testament. Our churches have personnel teams, yearly employee reviews, internships. I understand the need for these things, but each step brings us closer to being Church Inc. Pastors and Leaders are now simply paid employees trying to please the clients and no longer serving Jesus. There is high pressure for results, for growth and baptisms, so we throw out Spirit leadership and rely on new methods. We need achievement, so we fire the coaching staff, get a new quarterback and redo the playbook. All the while, are we really being people of the Book, or have we found a new set of rules.
I once heard Francis Chan ask, if a group of people were stranded on an Island with only the NT, and came to America having only the NT to guide their understanding of the church, would they recognise what we do as church? What would the church look like today if you only used the Word, and not 200 years of American tradition? I don’t think we would work so hard to craft a purpose statement. Do you?