Have you ever noticed there are a great many churches "in business" today?! I stress those words in business because for many, the true focus of their collective efforts is on being successful in their church-business enterprise.
What is success anyway? And, how does one go about measuring the success of a church? Success should be measured in the real production of healthy, Spirit-led followers of Christ. But, to be honest… that’s a pretty difficult thing to tangibly measure.
That’s where many church leaders get tripped up—this idea of tangibly measuring results. Many leaders begin to define success in ways more measurable… like, say… with finances. Once the focus becomes finances, a church leader can justify just about any failure as long as financially the church tithes and offerings received are greater than the weekly budgeted needs.
Success in ministry becomes financial stability. Leadership becomes less concerned about mission, vision, or the leading of the Spirit, than they are on achieving success financially.
In this model, the means to achieving success relies on the smarts of the leaders in charge. As a result, you typically find individuals in elder/deacon roles that have proven themselves successful in the market place. They are not necessarily spiritually mature... but, they typically do have lots of money.
These leaders—spiritually blind—turn ministry into little more than a good marketing scheme. The demand for having or acquiring the nicest facilities becomes a high priority. Staff is tasked with providing programs which will attract and keep membership plugged-in and happy. And, the need for a dynamic lead pastor capable of delivering the goods with regards to the financial equation is an absolute necessity.
There is a church like this in every town… and probably more than one! These churches are little more than social clubs. Little ministry of any value is accomplished. And, anything of eternal consequence that does occur often does so in spite of the efforts and programs of “the club.”
Word of warning to the financially driven…
You have chosen a dog and pony show and financial stability over freedom and faith in God. Money is your god. And, no doubt, your business of religion will produce the measure of success you so singularly desire. But in exchange for financial gain you have welcomed death and oppression in to your homes.
In short order, you'll come to despise and mourn the decisions you've made. In the same fashion that Judas despised the silver pieces he obtained in exchange for selling Jesus—you’ll despise what you become as the result of your own compromise.
In 1 Timothy 6, Paul says, "If you have leaders who refuse the solid words of our Master Jesus, tag them for what they are: ignorant windbags who infect the air with germs of envy, controversy, bad-mouthing, and suspicious rumors. They cause an epidemic of backstabbing. Truth becomes but a distant memory under their leadership. They are out to use religion to make a fast buck.”
What does this sort of leader sound like? They say things like, "...God will get your tithe—either you'll give your money to the church, or you'll get cancer and end up paying the doctors."
These guys are ignorant windbags interested only in twisting truth to manipulate money out of your pocket! If you find yourself here, Paul says, "Run for your life!"
For the church focused on worshipping money, “will cause some to lose their footing in the faith altogether. And, all who make money their god will live to regret it bitterly ever after.”
Run hard and fast in the faith
Be sure, “a devout life does bring wealth; but, it's the rich simplicity of being able to be yourself before God! Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that's enough.”
Avoid the business of religion. "Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, and courtesy. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to!"