Jesus Inc.

We must be careful how we operate our ministries. Christianity is not a business and it should not operate like one. As ministers of the gospel we must beware of a certain trap and that is what I am writing on today.

I used to work for a major corporation, a financial industry who dealt in credit cards and home loans. We had a sales mentality instilled in our service-oriented tasks because, after all, we all knew on what side our bread was buttered. Day by day I would take phone calls and answer questions, and afterward, I would let customers know about our newest balance transfer offer, line of homeowners insurance, or home equity lines of credit.

I hated it.

It was soul-sucking work that made me feel like a vampire wearing a cheap suit and fake munchers. I was trained in important work yet had to hawk wares at the end of each call. Now let's draw the curtain, and exit stage left while the crew assembles a stage that resembles a church setting 15 years later.

I'm a Christian, but specifically a worker in the gospel. I sometimes make a living doing this. Sometimes I don't. It all depends. But what I've noticed sometimes is a corporate mentality with those who live off the gospel. I will explain. But before I do, I want to tell you all that I love you and do not judge you. It isn't judging to point out something of which we must all beware, yours truly included.

Somewhere along the line we've gotten the idea that bigger is better and that more is, well, more. We've got to put butts in the seats and fill our stadiums with the most people that we can. For some of us, it's how we pay the bills. And when it becomes a numbers game, something strange happens. We become cognizant of what may offend and of what may drive others away. We hesitate, we withdraw, and we sometimes decide something is not worth discussing.

There were times I wanted to say certain things but did not for fear of the consequences. There were issues I wanted to touch on but was not sure how that would play out in my reach for the top. Sometimes we strive to be compelling in order to reach the most people, without saying the things which very few people will be willing to receive.

If Jesus operated His ministry this way, He would never have told us that we needed to eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life. He would have minced words and kept back the harder truths, the things not inherently designed to draw in a crowd. He would have feared driving away the people. He did drive away the people when He said that, by the way. And we're not following in His footsteps.

We run church like a corporation.

Jesus should have relaxed and enjoyed the crowd who followed Him after the bread and loaves miracle, according to many modern outreach standards. But He didn't. He told them that they followed Him for the bread and fishes that He gave them, but that they should pursue bread from heaven instead. He followed by telling them that He was that bread.

Imagine this. Preacher has a great crowd, a downright enormous throng of people. What he is to do? Keep them! By all means, do what you have to do to keep your audience enthralled. No matter what, don't offend them.

Wait. What?

Some people will find the word of God offensive. It's sad, but it's true. The Bible tells us all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It exposes our sins, highlights our wrongs and shines a spotlight on our faults. The word of God is quick and divides the soul from the spirit and the bones from the marrow. How can we preach that and still keep the crowd? How can we speak of grace without ever talking about the reason for such lavish grace?

I don't think we can. And so, often we make a choice. We choose to omit the harder and the weightier passages of scripture. Don't think so?

Listen to what many have to say about homosexuality today. They're watering down scripture. Think about how the church has skipped by so many hard and difficult subjects. It's as if we don't feel at liberty to speak because we want to keep everybody happy.

We have to.

Otherwise our numbers will go down. And we can't let that happen. This is, after all, a business. Right?

Wrong. It's not a business. And before Christ comes back and overturns our tables and scatters our merchandise, we'd better think this over. There is more at stake than butts in the seat. It's our butt that's on the line.

Compromised.

Lukewarm.

Afraid to say the truth.

We'll one day have to give an account for this.

And the sheep bear some fault too. Why's that? If tithe-paying, ministry-supporting sheep turn tail at hard sayings and can't be relied upon to stand by those doing the work of God, it hinders the work that teachers have been called on to do. Still, it is their decision whether to walk away.

But we take away that decision by omitting whatever it is that might offend them and by only offering milk and cookies.

I'm not saying everyone with a large platform does this. I know there are lovely, godly women and men who produce the writings and music that God has placed on their hearts and who set a great example for the rest of us. It's not about the size of your platform, nor am I here to accuse anyone.

I lovingly want to point out the need we all have to be very careful. We need to shine our lights and be a city on a hill that everyone can see, we just need to be careful not to cover that light by watering down the truth.

Let's not be steeped in fear, writers and speakers, teachers of the word of God. Let's be courageous, adventurous and truly honest, and let's do what we have been called to do. Perhaps this numbers thing is a subtle trick to make us dishonest before the Father. We are, after all, accountable to Him.

Let's gird our loins with truth, put on our helmets of Salvation and make sure our feet are shod with the good news of the gospel. Let's do what truly matters for eternity and what puts a smile on His face and will make Him say, 'well done'. Let's do it trusting that He will provide for our needs when we put first His Kingdom and His righteousness.

Let's not be silenced for want of numbers and for want of influence. Let's speak the truth for the truth's sake and let the crowd come and go as they will. Let's abandon the business model and dim the lights on the neon sign in our shop window that says, 'Jesus Inc'. 

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Comments

Thought provoking! Thanks for telling it like it is!
 

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