I can be hard on the church sometimes, so let me switch gears today and offer some positive thoughts about the idea of “corporate” church. There are probably hundreds of ways it’s true that the church is not a corporation and no shortage of ecclesial deconstructionists to point this out, but I’ve noticed one aspect of this critique that feels a little – what’s the word? – lazy. I suppose I see this in two ways. The first is simply a quick dismissal of any principle of organization or interaction that we think is too wooden as “corporate.” If you’re going to make that claim, think things through enough to back it up.
For instance, I know I’m oversimplifying a bit but any venture can be analyzed by looking at “ends” and “means” – or in other words, what we’re trying to accomplish and what we’re doing to accomplish it. Corporations (or “the corporate world”) pursue some goals that are compatible with the church’s goals and others that aren’t; and they seek to reach their goals using some methods that are compatible with the church’s and some that aren’t. And vice versa. For instance, one of the church’s “ends” or goals is to make disciples of Jesus and teach people to do everything he commanded. For the most part, this will not be an end that corporations share. Corporations tend above all else to pursue a profitable bottom line; this is not a major goal that churches share.
But the lack of compatibility in some instances – okay, the far majority of instances – doesn’t mean there’s no legitimate overlap. Continue reading »