Some people follow sports, some follow reality television, some follow the news and the markets, while others, like myself, have in their quiver of interests more obscure fascinations. So….I still occasionally observe the going’s on of a growing ecclesiastic franchise that was fundamental in shaping, both for good and ill, my perspective of the church-scape of America.
Yes, I am again pontificating on the business-driven corporate culture of the megachurch, specifically as represented by NewSpring.
About once or twice a month, I make a point to visit Perry Noble’s blog, just to see which way the wind is blowing at that particular place. Just recently, I found this gem of insight, Two Types of Church Planters, wherein Noble, artificially and self-servingly I think, bifurcates church planters into two groups, those with The Victim Mentality and those with The Victory Mentality, a success-driven framework that would make any C.E.O., or L.Ron Hubbard for that matter, proud.
What I find in Noble’s post is an abject lack of anything resembling grace and humility, but more of an American and business-like ‘just pull yourself up by your own bootstraps,’ attitude that stands in sharp contrast to the Christian ethos of generosity, humility, and mercy. Perry infers that he and his church did it, got successful without outside help or handouts, and it is inferred, so should you. Such attitudes are understandable because you generally do not expect quiet mercy and grace from a measurable-driven corporate entity, and that is exactly the foundation upon which so many American churches set themselves.
My overarching question to Perry is this: Good for you that you never had to humble yourself to ask for ‘hand-outs’ or discounts, but how did your acquire the funds to grow your church and to attend those ubiquitous ‘leadership’ conferences to begin with? I will tell you. You shilled for funds and then people gave you money in the form of tithes and donations. You did not design a product and sell it on the market to make a profit so as to use said profits to fund your excursions. So, how dare you chastise a poor, struggling church plant, essentially call them losers, that dares ask your multimillion dollar church for help. What one finds in Perry’s post is a breath-taking example of hypocrisy and pride. Quite frankly, I think a Divine favor has been set upon a church that they should not be able to attend one of Noble’s business/leadership seminars.
Ultimately, the hyper-focus on business-driven, and often narcissistic, leadership skills and the elevating of tangible measurables as an indicator of success leads a church to a place of arrogance and pride. The counting of ‘salivations’ is ultimately not the job of the church. Such is reserved by God for the angels on the day when wheat and chaff are separated. It may be bold hubris on the part of a church to take that task upon themselves so as to measure the success of their efforts and methods.
Further, the measuring of a persons righteousness by the percentage of their income given to a church is wrong on so many levels that I could exhaust hours on the subject, but so many churches do just that, teaching an errant doctrine of tithing, using inferred condemnation upon the already-redeemed Christian as a manipulative catalyst for giving in order to increase the bottom line of the business. Income is an easy measurable. Ask yourself this, if you attend NewSpring, how many times, in the course of a year, do you hear a message on tithing. When I attended, I would roughly estimate I heard a tithing message at least six times a year.
Sadly, many aspiring and eager church planters, seeing the growth, glamor, and success, seek in good intention to model their churches and methods after NewSpring, Elevation, and fellow travelers. (As an aside, if Elevation’s Code does not make the Christian nervous, make one squirm, over their somewhat cultic proclamations, especially that ‘pastor’s vision’ thing, nothing will. It deserves it’s own polemic post) Quite honestly, these franchises are not always wrong in all they do all the time. I believe you will find many therein who are fervent in their love for the Messiah. That all being said, one cannot give a pass to those who are fundamentally redefining the nature of the church. I think, on the day of Judgement, there will be some small church in some big city that never grew large numerically but was faithful in their selfless caring for one another, that did not compromise the Gospel, that did not sacrifice orthopraxy on the altar of pragmatism, that will be far more highly exalted in the Kingdom that some multi-campus megachurch video franchise that lost sight of the fact that the Messiah is our faithful Shepherd gently tending after His sheep rather than an example of cooperate American leadership.
In closure, it is so interesting that NewSpring has ‘ownership’ classes rather than membership classes wherein you can speak to other ‘owners’. More disturbing business-speak. I thought Jesus was the ‘owner’ of His bride.