In a couple of posts on the Shepherd (1,2), I’ve alluded to Church, Inc™, the idea that the super-nature of the church can be reduced to mere nature; that calling is reduced to hiring, pastor is reduced to employee, elder is reduced to board member, sermon is reduced to entertainment, worship is reduced to music, ministry is reduced to volunteering…it goes on an on.

In Church, Inc.™, the mission of Church on earth becomes the agenda of a few white dudes (in my experience) who horde authority by the purse strings – or worse, by fear.

Church, Inc™ happens when leaders forget to put Jesus at the center of the Mission, Motivation, Money, Members and Miraculous nature of the Body of Christ.

More and more, I hear stories of “pastors” who are being retired by “boards” who are tired of listening to passionate appeals for Evangelism, articulate Prophetic correction and Apostolic missional vision for innovation and discipleship.

No, really. This actually happens.

When the focus shifts from “all about me” to “all about them” church leaders often freak out and forget that God calls pastors to lead congregations, that the Word is an equal opportunity offender/encourager and outreach doesn’t mean a member massage.

The more the landscape of American Christianity shifts, the more leaders are going to be tempted to turn on the soul and rely on the self.

Church, Inc.™ happens when what God has done and is doing becomes unpopular with leaders who are more concerned that God rubber stamp what they have done and are doing.

Church, Inc™ is an effective shortcut to decline. 

It’s no secret why.

In Church, Inc.™, business strategies are more popular than spiritual development. Programs are offered for hungry consumers like McDonalds™ hands out chicken nuggets to kids.

The problem withChurch, Inc.™ is that the body of Christ stops living and moving and having it’s being as the people of God and is soullessly reduced to a business.

The Church isn’t a building for a business, it’s a people with a purpose.

Church, Inc.™ operates on a “need to know” basis, as in “There’s so much I need to know!”Church, Inc.™ peddles education over transformation.

Because it doesn’t wait for revelation, it settles for education. The lust is for the next sexy tidbit of information, instead of the long obedient commitment to Christ-like transformation. Church, Inc.™ would rather know about Jesus, than know Jesus.

Church, Inc.™ is consumed by the tyranny of now, which isn’t even in the vocabulary of faith in Jesus.

Church, Inc™ cares more for the “found” within the walls than they do the “lost” within the world.

If your attempts to reach out infuriate your “board”, then you know how true this is. Not only is it unreasonable, it’s counter to the church’s entire existence. Those who pastor in churches have deep scars over this one. Try and remind a Church, Inc.™ employee that they exist to serve and not be served and what you won’t see is all heaven breaking loose.

Church, Inc.™ is a country club that for some reason is insulted by the insinuation that they are a country club. They pay weekly and expect daily benefits.

As a result, pastors are set up to fail. They can never “X” enough, but are graded on a scale that demands they do. If they do what Jesus calls them to do, the “Board” may well un-call them.

Church, Inc™ is control by another name.

When a church becomes about control, it ceases to be the Church. Jesus came to free us from the rules of religion.Church, Inc.™ creates rules and calls them religion. Jesus makes room for relationship with God.Church, Inc.™ programs God out of your calendar. Jesus invites men and women into the long and difficult role of Shepherd. Church, Inc.™ empowers sheep to invite the shepherd to a bitter and hasty exit. Jesus provides nutrition. Church, Inc.™ serves calories.

Jesus frees all humanity to value what the Father does. Church, Inc.™ helps “the best” attenders to value what they do.

Most people haven’t been hurt by the Christ-likeness of the Church. They’ve been crushed by the Corporation-likeness of it.

Jesus is the bottom line of the church. Church, Inc.™ demands that those in power take his place. Jesus is the CEO, but Church, Inc.™ seems to have a preferred replacement. Jesus keeps believers focused on his mission. Church, Inc.™ demands their people follow them to absolutely nowhere. Jesus sends those who know him to those who don’t, Church, Inc.™ waits for those who don’t to come to those who do. Jesus loves and seeks the lost. Church, Inc.™ fear them. Jesus disrupts every conceivable status quo. Church, Inc.™ will undo what God has done to protect it.

Jesus grows his Body. Church, Inc.™ collapses it.

When the center of the church is a person, you know you are in Church, Inc.™ territory. When the center is Jesus, you know you are really free.

The body of Christ is worth more than Church, Inc.™.

Don’t give in.

Don’t give up.


(I don’t have a trademark on Church, Inc. It just seemed like it needed it.)