I have been involved in Church leadership for over 15 years and have experienced many Churchgoers asking why it is that the Church always lags behind the business world when it comes to the implementation of new technologies and strategies.
Or, why does the Church never actually lead the way? And having been directly involved in Church management for just under half of those years, I too have wondered why this is.
Why is the Church never a trend setter?
Why is it that we can never set the pace and lead rather than follow?
I believe that there are primarily two reasons for this.
Money’s Too Tight to Mention
Firstly, the Church rarely ever has sufficient resources. This is not purely a financial issue but a people’s one too. It is a practical reality that the Church needs money in order to do the work of ministry, both missional and pastoral. But it is a reality too that not everyone pays their full tithes which results in budget shortfalls and the inability to do what needs to get done. It is a sad reality too that there are those in ministry who squander financial resources, which in turn make people not want to give their tithes, perpetuating the problem.
But as I mentioned, the lack of resources is not only a financial issue but a people’s one too. Due to the lack of finances, the Church can never pay enough to retain critical technical or strategic skills. Yes, the work of ministry does mean that most accept a financial sacrifice as a gift to God. But as living costs go up and family dynamics change, that sacrifice becomes more and more burdensome. Until one day the ministry worker either gets lapped up by the business world prepared to pay a market related salary for the skills that they are acquiring, or they start their own business with the skills that they have acquired over the years. So finances are both a direct and indirect key problem.
The Church Is Not A Business
I believe though that the second reason is the more pertinent one as to why the church always lags behind, and that is that the Church is not a business. Yes, it must operate along most standard business practices such as developing policies and procedures to govern how the ministry must operate and appropriately spend finances. But it is ultimately not a business in the traditional sense in that it does not operate to generate income or profit. As such, the Church simply does not possess the finances, personnel resources, or the inert desire to research and develop methods, strategies, or technologies, that ultimately seek to make money out of its patrons.
Some businesses may argue that businesses aim to serve their customers, but the truth is that none of them would do that for very long if it did not prove profitable; charity does not pay the bills. As much as they say they want to serve, it is only done at a cost to the one that they want to serve. The Church is the only organisation that is truly prepared to serve at no cost to the direct beneficiary of that service. Some may argue that other not for profit organisations also exist to serve without cost to the beneficiary of that service, but I believe that these organisations exist because the Church is not fulfilling that role due to both the lack of finances and or the misappropriation thereof.
Another aspect to the Church not being a business point is the danger of serving two masters (Matthew 6:24). In order for the Church to be able to conduct technological research and development, it would require masses of additional finances. And like a friend of mine always used to say, money makes you funny. Therefore, there will always be a danger when lots of money is floating around in the Church. Having too much of it always seems to result in problems somewhere.
Am I Being Negative?
Some might say that I am speaking negativity over the Church or that I am prophesying death, but I believe that pursuing the desire to be trend setters is a misguided goal and detracts from the true purpose of the Church. If time, energy and money is wasted on technology research and development, then that is time, energy and money taken away from missional and or pastoral efforts.
So What’s the Point?
The fact is that the Church is not a business. The point is that it means that it will never develop any new non-missional or non-pastoral strategies or technologies, and will therefore always be a step or more behind the business world.
But that’s okay.
As long as the Church stays abreast of the latest technology and strategies to see which would be the most suitable to implement in an ever changing world.
The Bible speaks about us being in the world, not of the world. To expect or desire or strive for the Church to be like a business, developing technologies, would to be of the world. To be using existing, already developed technologies or strategies, is being in the world.
The Church then must use technology to promote the Gospel, but it doesn’t have to develop it. And that’s why it will always lag behind.
And the Solution Is …?
Sites like ChurchMag exist to help connect the dots between the Church and the world of technology. People who possess the passion for both the Church and technology, take the time to sift out the chaff of what works and what will most likely benefit the Church in its mission and goals.
Listen to them.