Franchising God

What do I feel like today? How about something spicy? How about that place? No, it’s too bland. What about the place on the corner? That place is too pricey. The big place? No. Last time we went there I got sick. The old place? No, not there it takes waaay too long. Oooh, that’s a pretty place. Nope, too loud. There? No, they are totally rude there.

Sound familiar? It may sound like a typical conversation regarding a trip into town to grab a bite to eat on restaurant row, or at a food court, but increasingly I think it begins to sound like a choice being made in regards to a church. And who does the church have to blame?

All too often the Church has taken on a worldly business model and is attempting to “grow our business model with increased sales.”  More advertising. More promotion, more “gimmicks.” Sadly enough, we often represent the many different “flavors” of our denominations, and sometimes that can divide us. We are guilty of trying to position ourselves as something unique among the many options. What are our demographics? Who is our target market? Are we going to offer something spicy? Or just something healthy? How do we fill this place up?

It sure must look to the community that we are all in competition with each other. I mean there are so many choices. Sometimes it may seem that the only things missing are the neon signs and the arrows saying, “EAT HERE.”

In all actuality, what we have to “offer” is identical, our “menu” is the same, or at least it should be. We are all promoting the same “product” or benefit, a stronger relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Paul told the Ephesians, in 4:4-6, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

Shouldn’t all the churches be committed to serving, or offering a worshipping community, that is building mature disciples, and evangelizing the lost all for the glory of God, all in the context of loving the Lord God with our entire being (Mark 12:30 “AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’)? Am I missing something or isn’t that something every church in town should be offering and doing?

Gimmicks, gadgets, programs, novelties …What’s next, coupons? Frequent attender cards for extra gifts? Prizes? Shouldn’t the unsuspecting searcher be able to randomly wander into any given Christian establishment and find a healthy and balanced serving of faith and worship?

I know we have theological debates, governmental differences and varying styles of worship, but God so wants us to demonstrate unity with each other. And we truly do need each other. My guess is that the Church is going to go through some pretty difficult times in the days to come. We are going to need everyone working together as a team.

God help us for the warped value we have taken from our capitalistic culture. God forgive me for thinking I am in competition with my fellow servants in the Kingdom of God.

Don’t take a number. Don’t wait for a table. Just roll up your sleeves and get to work. We are all in this together.