Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Watch the vocabulary. . .
I have already lamented here how my own church body seems to be in love with the term entrepreneurial. We are told to be entrepreneurial pastors and churches and we give out awards for entrepreneurial leadership. Last time I checked this was a term for economics or business. I am a card carrying capitalist and I do not dislike the term but I dislike the way we have peppered our conversations with terminology borrowed not from Scripture or even Christian history and theology but other ologies or areas. The more we distance ourselves from the Biblical vocabulary, the easier it is for us to distance our faith and teaching from Biblical doctrine.
Over the past third of century as a pastor, I have heard about the need to vision cast, adopt new paradigms, write mission statements, and define core values. Such stuff consumes the bulk of the American economy. Ask any nurse, for example, how much of their time for patient care is wasted on customer relations, customer satisfaction, telling people the hospital vision statement, sharing the core values with the people in the waiting room, and filling out or asking people to fill out customer satisfaction surveys. Yes, I get that health care is a big and competitive industry but why are we saddling those who must care for patients with the burden of helping hospitals build brand loyalty, achieve high consumer preference scores, and convince them that this hospital is better at providing service that satisfies than another hospital down the block? In the same way, we as pastors are told to spend our time studying demographics, putting in good signage, writing mission statements, clarifying core values, and building an entrepreneurial sacramental ministry (whatever the heck that means). We are here to preach and teach God's Word, administer the sacraments, console the dying and grieving, call the erring to account, pray for the flock in our care, etc... but we hardly have time for that when we are so busy borrowing the latest, greatest business trends.
We ought to be concerned. We ought to be worried. We ought to be cautious about the easy way we have translated the church into a business, the ministry into entrepreneurship, the Gospel into a product, customer satisfaction into the goal, and increased market share as the purpose of our churches. We are raising generations of people who find it harder and harder to distinguish the church from business and more and more passive and high maintenance about the level of customer service they expect -- and it is not a good thing.
Some of the best sermons I have ever heard were sermons I did not like or want to hear. They drew blood, exposed my weakness, and confronted my sin in uncomfortable but essential ways. And then the drew me from myself to the arms of Jesus outstretched in suffering. Our people have been deceived by pastors who distract the church and its ministry from the Word of God, from the Gospel of Christ crucified, and from a life of sacrificial service loving God by loving our neighbors in His name.
At the same time, our people are more Biblically illiterate than ever and find it hard to distinguish truth from error, heresy from orthodoxy, and the Word of God from the ramblings of people about their feelings. The church is not a business. It not in business to satisfy people. The Church is the body of Christ and she exists to proclaim Christ's death for the forgiveness of sins to every age, people, and place until He comes in His glory. The Church will not be evaluated by people but will be judged by the Father. He will not ask if we have been successful but we will be asked if we have been faithful. Perhaps WalMart cannot afford to do business like that but the Church cannot afford to do business like WalMart.