The Church is Not a Business
A lot of churches are classified as non-profit businesses for tax purposes but we know the truth. The church is not a business in the way we use the word today. Christ’s bride is not in the entertainment business, the education business, the child care business, or restaurant business. The church is in the business of saving souls, edifying the brethren, doing good works to glorify God, and worshipping His wonderful name. In short, the church is about the Father’s business. “And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).
God shows us that His house is not a business by revealing how the church gathers funds. Members of the church offer free-will offerings on every first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). The collection can be supplemented by gifts at other opportunities (Acts 4:37). These funds are used to do the work of the church, stated above.
The Church is Not About Large Savings Accounts. Many seem to have lost sight of the simple pattern of the New Testament. When discussing the overall health of the congregation, leaders might reference how much money is in savings instead of spiritual growth. Looking at a profit and loss statement cannot reveal whether or not the congregation is doing well according to the Lord (Revelation 2:10). It’s right to be a good steward and save some for unexpected circumstances, but we must not put our faith in how much is in the bank (Luke 12:42).
The Church is Not About the Number of Givers. “How many members are in your church?” I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked that question and I suppose the next time it happens I will reply, “All of them.” If a church has more members (givers) that means they most likely have more money. However, God’s work can be accomplished despite the number of people or number of dollars that are associated with your congregation. While it helps to have money to spread the gospel to lost souls, that can be done without a dime (I Thessalonians 2:9). It’s easier to gather to worship in a large building, but that can be done in homes (Acts 2:46).
The Church is Not About Providing Services and Amenities. When a congregation focuses on how much money is being brought in, they make different decisions than they would normally. The focus changes from preaching the gospel to “What type of preaching is desired.” Instead of revolving around good works that are needed, conversations shift slightly to, “What services can be offered?” While this might not seem dangerous at first, it comes with drastic consequences. More services offered requires more funds, which requires more givers and therefore even more services to attract them. It is an endless cycle. Pastors must be focused on feeding the church of God, not the church treasury (Acts 20:28).
Unauthorized practices like bake sales and yard sales to fund the work of the church soon follow these changes in mindset. Members who are able to give a lot rise in prominence over members who cannot give as much. Unnecessary and extravagant expenditures are approved so that the red carpet can be rolled out for potential members. Every effort is made to impress them with fancy equipment and amenities. These services masquerade as the love of Christ when they only fulfill the pride and lust.
Christians will change their focus to follow the eyes of their shepherds under these circumstances. Instead of asking, “Which church will best help me and my family go to heaven?” they ask, “Which church do we like best?” or “What do they offer a family like ours?” No longer do these Christians “press toward the mark” (Phil 2:14). Instead they beg to have their desires met. If turning a profit becomes a priority for a church, the standards of truth will be lowered and God’s people will suffer, whether they realize it or not. The best way to run the business of the church is God’s way.