The church is the most unique institution on the face of the earth. It is a physical organization and a spiritual organism. It is the Body of Christ, not buildings, and budgets.
There are times we try to make the church something that God never intended. Throughout history, man has tried to secularize the divine and in the process, puts his dirty hands on a holy institution. Historically, man has defiled a holy and pure bride with his insistence on systems.
We often do this by trying to make the church into a business. We bring secular business principles into the church and try to “run it” by the world’s standards. Neither the world nor a fleshly mind can understand the church; it is a divine institution.
We do practice sound business principles and operating procedures. Yet, we are NOT a business. I’m talking about the secular mentality–one that operates only on the basis of the five senses. A five sense church is, in effect, a no-sense church. A man can be an incredible CEO in the world and a failure at understanding the way God does business. If He is not Spirit filled and full of godly wisdom, he will lead that church to spiritual bankruptcy.
If we operated the church like a business, we would send out statements to the membership each month with “dues” owed to the organization. As in EVERY OTHER club or business( that accepts and invites members to join) NO PAY, NO PLAY OR PARTICIPATE! Membership would be withdrawn. The privileges of membership do not include delinquent dues in any organization except the church.
If we were a business we would charge for every activity. After all, you may be a member, but you don’t get free cokes, coffee, or doughnuts. You pay for what you get. Even if the item is “free,” the cost is covered in your monthly dues.
Membership implies being a part of a whole. It means “one who belongs to a group or organization.” A church is the easiest organization in the world to join. At the same time, it’s the hardest place to find people who will live up to the responsibilities of membership.
Parenthetically if someone is a member of a club and refuses to obey the rules, participate, or pay, they simply vote them out. The church meanwhile lowers the standard so “people will join.” Non-dues paying members (welfare recipients) want the church to provide all the full service ministries with no personal investment. They don’t like us to talk about “the dues” (tithing). They enjoy asking the church to be their “full service” spiritual bank without any money in their account.
Our church operates with decency and order. We have a competent finance committee and Business Administrator. They work to get the most out of every dollar that is given. They know our problem is obedience, not dollars. Therefore, they are called on to make decisions by faith.
We are more than a business. We are the body of Christ. Business understanding alone is not sufficient to operate by faith. You can run a successful secular business and be a failure in running a church if you don’t understand Biblical faith. To operate a church by faith means we trust God’s resources, not our own.
To operate a church by faith means we don’t let the economy, elections, energy crisis or eccentrics dictate our direction. The church is only successful when she has an account in heaven bigger than her account in the bank. God’s blessings are in direct proportion to our faith. When’s the last time we had to believe God to “come through” is the question. NOT how much do we have in CDs.
Ron Dunn says, “God allows us to set the level and the limit of our own blessings. In a very real sense, we determine the extent to which God uses and blesses us….If we are spiritually (I might add, materially) impoverished, it is not because the hand of grace is tight-fisted; it is because the hand of faith is too weak. The hand of faith is smaller than the hand of grace.”
F.B. MEYER stated, “If only a soul can believe in God, to the extent to which it believes it can obtain anything that is in the heart of God to bestow.”
We must never let the disobedient member (whether that disobedience be in the area of stewardship, morality, or lack of faith) run the church. The day we allow that to happen, we will become a business at best, and a carnal institution at worse. The hand of God will be removed from us.
“If we are to live by faith we must not allow our physical senses – what we see, taste, touch, smell and hear – have the last word. We must move out of the sense realm into the Scripture realm. If our five senses tell us one thing and the Scriptures quite another, we must believe the Scriptures.” – Ron Dunn
©MCC 1994, I Left My Mind in Mississippi…pg. 66-68.
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.