Why Church Shouldn’t Be Business As Usual

Why Church Shouldn’t Be Business As Usual June 19, 2019

A few years ago I received an email from someone who had a question for me regarding the mounting debt issues at their church.

The email read:

“Our church is in debt. We owe the bank thousands. We now need the debt to function. We have become dependent on it. My spouse challenged the finance person, in private, about this and got no where. We suggested we stop doing stuff and paying so many people to run the church. These suggestions feel on deaf ears.”

Now, my perspective may be different than most in this situation, but since the question has been asked — and since I believe that many other Churches will most likely find themselves in the same boat one day — I wanted to take the time and respond here.

For a bit of background on my personal situation, let me make it clear that my wife and I have fairly radical views when it comes to the Church. Especially when it comes to church finances, offerings and tithes.

For our family, it is our conviction that the offering belongs to the poor and not to the Church to spend on herself and her own comforts. This is why, about 11 years ago, we both left our on-staff, paid pastoral positions and started a house church where 100% of all offerings could go to the poor in our community.

In our house church, no one took any salary. We used every penny received in our basket to buy groceries for needy families and to help people in our community.

Of course, most churches, do not operate in this way. In fact, most churches in America today are operating as a business. Because of this, these churches – like any other business – often suffer financially and face economic hardships that force many to make difficult decisions about staff, expenses and programs.

Like other businesses, Churches often lay off workers, cut back on programs and down-size their staff to make it through uncertain economic times.

But, could it be that God might be allowing the Church as we know it to go out of business so that she can realize that she was never intended to operate as a business in the first place?

I know, most Christians today cannot imagine Church without a paid professional clergy, a large building, a state-of-the-art sound system, and programs for youth and children. However, the historical evidence is that people have been operating without these things for literal centuries. These same churches have been making disciples and preaching the Gospel and serving the just fine, thank you. All without a building, a paid professional clergy, or programs or a thousand dollar sound system.

Seriously.

Furthermore, the New Testament tells us that Jesus refers to His Church as a Family, a Body, an Organism and a Bride. He never treats her as a business and, in my opinion, the Scriptures reveal a very different DNA for Church than the model we’ve adopted here in the West.

One pastor friend recently shared that he had approached his board of directors at his church about not continuing to take a salary for his services. He wanted to take a job in the real world and not be a burden to the Body financially.

This, I thought, was a wonderful idea. However, the board wouldn’t allow him to work for free or to earn his salary elsewhere. This response puzzles me in many ways, but sadly, most cannot conceive of running the Church in any other way than as a business.

Honestly, the board’s real reason for not allowing my friend to work for free is because they wanted the leverage to fire him if he ever got out of line.

Over the last few years I have met three different pastors, all in California, who have found it necessary to let go of their church building and their paid staff due to financial hardships. In each case, these pastors made the decision to re-organize as a series of house churches.

All of them have also discovered the joy and the freedom of “Being the Church” rather than asking their people to attend one. None of them would ever go back.

What’s more: None of them would have taken the step towards House Church if their bank accounts had been flush with cash.

However, now that these churches have made the leap towards organic forms of “being Church” these three pastors have also discovered that, instead of shrinking in size, they are growing; both in maturity and in numbers.

Now, instead of hurting for money they cannot help but generate money, because they have zero expenses.

So, instead of spending thousands of dollars a month on utilities and bills, they now spend hundreds of hours in community and in fellowship with one another every month. Better yet, they have discovered what it means to really be the Family of God without acting like a business.

Our house church, The Mission, ran for over 11 years. In that time, our family was very blessed to grow alongside others who shared our passion for living outward-focused lives of love. My family was blessed to open our home and discover true Koinonia fellowship and community with people who had a sincere desire to follow Jesus.

Because of this simplicity, we’ve all been blessed to encourage one another in our faith and to spur one another on to do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do.

What’s more, we’ve been blessed to share our finances with one another, and with those we encounter in the community, who are in need. We’ve seen the power that comes when you can connect every dollar you give with the needs of actual people whose lives are sincerely blessed because of what we’ve shared with them.

Of course, this is no way to run a business, and that’s the whole point. Our passionate desire is to live our faith and share what we have been given without allowing profits or corporate strategy or thoughts of ROI to muddy the waters.

Perhaps God has other reasons for allowing financial pressures to put some Churches out of business? Who knows?

All I can say is that I have learned to be the Church in ways I never thought possible before.

My hope and prayer is that the people of God here in America would really begin to fully understand what it means to operate as a family, and to share what they have, and to embrace one another, and the poor, no matter what the cost.
If you’re curious about how to start a home-based church in your home, here are three great resources for you:
FIRST: I’ve started a new private Facebook Group for seasoned practitioners of House Church and absolute beginners to share ideas and encourage one another called “Organic Church Mastermind Group.
FINALLY: My online course: “The Church Jesus Built: How To Start Home-Based Ekklesia In Your Community” starts Monday, July 8 at BeADisciple.com.
I’d love to help you take that step from Business As Usual, to Ekklesia As God Intended. Even it it’s just to pray for you and cheer you on!
Let me know if you need anything.
Peace,
Keith
Still curious about this whole “Organic Church” thing? Watch this:

**

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

Want Keith to come speak at your church or in your home town? Learn more HERE

 His newest book, “Jesus Unveiled: Forsaking Church As We Know It For Ekklesia As God Intended” released on June 9, 2019 on Amazon, and features a Foreword by author Richard Jacobson.

His book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.

His Podcast: Heretic Happy Hour Podcast is on iTunes and Podbean. 

Can’t get enough? Get great bonus content: Patreon page.

Upcoming events:

*Costa Mesa, CA – June 22 “United We Stand” -FREE!

*Hot Springs, NC – July 11-14 “Wild Goose Festival”

*Woodstock, GA – July 27-28 “Unleashing the Word of God” [With Richard Murray] – FREE!

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • R/R 2016

    Want to take that next step away from Business as Usual? Then buy my book, pay for a course, book a speech, or donate to my Patreon.

  • KontraDiction

    Ripping on someone else’s pursuit of their dream gets you not a single step closer to your own.

  • Al Cruise

    False equivalency. He’s not using Scripture to guilt, bully and emotional terrorize people into handing their money over like many conservative evangelical Churches do.

  • R/R 2016

    Straw man. Misrepresenting the argument and utterly pulling stuff out of your behind.

  • R/R 2016

    That quote would look great on a bathroom stall.

  • Lark62

    I noticed that too.

    “The pastor should have paid outside employment and all donations should go to the poor. Except for the donations your church uses to hire ME! and to buy MY! course and to pay ME! to speak and buy MY! book so I can tell you all about how to give all your money to the poor. (Except, of course, for the money you give ME!)”

    He may have been sincere 11 plus years ago, but those “love offerings” are hard to turn down.

  • smrnda

    Let’s think about some numbers here. Would someone rather have 100% of the money a fast food worker makes in a day, or 5% of the money Jeff Bezos makes in a day? It’s admirable for a home church to give away 100% of the tithe, but a larger church with paid staff and a designated building might be giving more in absolute numbers. I know that not all churches have that sort of budget – many struggle to pay the bills, and I’m not a huge fan of the corporate megachurches and preachers with private jets either. But, there are some times when larger organizations can do something smaller ones don’t.

    Now, I know the solution is ‘why not break up the bigger churches into smaller home churches that will all give 100%?’ This is similar to how businesses sometimes think. Why pay for an office when everybody can work remotely? But that’s assuming that the membership numbers, either present of future won’t suffer due to the reorganization. The home church might seem nice to those who already belong, but is a new person likely to feel more comfortable sitting in the back of a building, or showing up at some stranger’s house?

  • Jon Laan

    So many big churches want to become BIGGER by building bigger buildings instead of having more services in the same big church. I once got thrown out of a Big church pastor’s office for suggesting this.
    I agree small groups are better than one mostly impersonal group but also it seems to me that a large gathering for liturgical services with serene and inspiring painted glass windows, magnificent choirs, and incredible orchestras and organs, Bach, Mozart music also have their place.

    Jesus, after all, did not entirely dispose of the priestly functions and instructed some to go to the priest, etc.

    I have actually been to churches (not too big, of course) where the pastor allowed us to make comments and ask questions during the sermon. Those were my favorite churches, and the pastors were not so big-headed that he demurred and was smart enough to not let things get out of hand.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    While “Jesus, after all, did not entirely dispose of the priestly functions” … Jesus most certainly DID throw the money changers OUT of His Father’s House. And lest we forget, Christ Himself made it clear that the widow who donated her “mite” gave MORE than did the wealthy and
    well-to-do, who put more total into the donation box, but LESS from their hearts.