In the beginning…in America!
We began our communities with settlers who moved in to claim a piece of land where they could live and raise their families. Many communities were formed because these men and women were looking for freedom to work and to worship as they chose.
As settlements grew, the people became residents and communities were formed. Businesses were established and churches were started. Most, if not all of the residents worked during the week and worshiped together on Sunday. Often the church would hold prayer meetings in the middle of the week. Churches were generally staffed by a man who answered a heavenly calling and his family worked alongside him to see that the church functioned. Most pastors were trained to preach but had little, if any, business training and their pay was typically below the average of the other men in their community.
This type of church was not at all like the early church and was destined to become irrelevant and ultimately fail. Why?
At formation…in America… the local church and local business were equally important. One met the financial needs of the (generally) men and the other met their spiritual needs. But each week, men would spend 40-60 hours at the business and only 1 or 2 at church. Because our human nature is selfish and Satan is very crafty, men naturally became more and more excited about the business and less and less excited about church. Businesses grew as churches stalled.
Over time businessmen saw the yearning of believers who wanted to worship and serve but churches were becoming fewer and less relevant! Opportunity knocked. What if a church became more like a business and attracted men and women who were interested in a great worship experience? Because everyone spent a majority of their time at the business why not make the church look and act like a business? And change it up so that there was always some “meat” but a whole lot of “dessert”. And since everyone likes sweets, this would surely work. And it did. Large churches offering bright lights and fun stuff to do (pies and cakes) were formed and the mega church generation began. Some amazing churches were formed and great Kingdom work is being done. But others have lots of fat with very little protein! This is not a healthy diet.
As I pray over this system, I fear that Christ’s church has too often become either a successful dining hall or a dying, old fashion meeting house. Without an intersection of business and church, there will be no church in America as Christ intended.
When we look at the early church, we find that the community was together. They worked together. They fellowshipped together! They prayed together and ate together. Their possessions were shared together. Church and business blended together.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2: 42-47
I believe that one of our most critical tasks today is to bring the business community and the faith community together as blended partners. When a business helps the local church with financial and administrative support, the church culture changes from survival mode (internal) to opportunity mode (external) and the community grows for the Kingdom. When the church helps the local business with spiritual support, the business culture changes from greed to generosity and the workplace culture becomes one of opportunity for all rather than survival of the fittest. Discipleship is brought to the business by the church and becomes part of the culture. Businesses become the missional support arm of the local church helping it to expand and reach the unchurched. And as they lock arms together, they reach outside of their community to bless the world.
Businesses fortifying churches and churches fortifying businesses! This is how a community wins!
Fortify 2018 is being planned for February 2018. Our mission is to bring the local church and business together to change our community forever. Stay tuned for more information.