Jesus commissioned the disciples to go and make disciples. The church should be one of the main places where we are discipled – where we go and see Christlikeness and see a desire for it, where we go to learn how to follow Jesus and are transformed from the inside out. Not behavior modification or sin management. Dallas Willard called it bar-code faith. As long as we have the right bar-code on the outside, it doesn’t really matter what’s on the inside. God’s not interested in that. He wants our whole lives – the outside and the inside.
A Short Story
The Tower Builder
Bill and Jill were married with 2 kids. Bill felt restless in his job. A natural leader, he thought he’d be directing his department or at least in a managerial position. Jill stepped off the corporate ladder to be home with the kids. Both were underwhelmed with life when Bill decided to go for his dream of building a tower for the city. Jill wasn’t sure of the idea at first but that changed when she met the other investors.
Bill found the investors as he researched his idea for the tower. After he met with them, he was reassured of the wisdom of his decision. The investors were as passionate as he was about the tower for the city. They helped others do this all the time. Bill only had to do two things to start moving toward his dream: come up with his part of the money and get his wife on board.
The investors had everything Bill and Jill needed to learn the strategies necessary to launch, grow, and sustain the tower. Launch manuals, recruiting techniques, coaching sessions, digital marketing plans, budget templates, and more are available to tower builders within the investment network. The network has building towers for the city down to a science. And they matched Bill’s money!
Bill met with one of the investor’s business partners to share ideas for the design and build of the tower. The network had business partners who financed Bill’s dream and provided legal support. A graphic designing partner created a captivating logo and website for the tower. Another business partner who is a social media guru produced a creative media campaign to help build a social media following for the tower.
Bill recruited other supporters, the dream team, who believed in the tower for the city. The dream team strategized the best time for opening and blasted social media about the grand opening of the tower using the artfully designed logo and tagline. Bill’s dream of a tower for the city came true.
The True Story
The story above is fictional but could be the true story of thousands of dreamers in the American church. Whether the dreamers had authentic plans of reaching people with the love of Jesus or not, this way of planting churches seems to turn the dreams of making disciples into making a business, leaving a legacy, building wealth and accumulating all the shiny things that make us feel and appear to be blessed and highly favored.
This way of building a tower might make sense, but does it make sense to build a church this way? Whether it makes sense or not, this is how it’s done in many church networks.
Of course good things happen at Giant Church Inc. God is not limited by our selfish empire building. He’s always worked within imperfect and even toxic systems. That does not mean we should keep doing it the way we’ve been doing it when we know the harm it’s causing. The good does not outweigh the bad.
And we know this. The only way we don’t know is that we’re working extremely hard NOT to know. I’ve written about willful blindness and it is a dominant feature at Giant Church Inc. It’s how they keep operating. When someone finally becomes brave enough to find out the truth, Giant Church Inc works to keep as much in the dark as possible, telling half truths and false narratives, and convincing the people that it’s for their own good to let the leadership handle the leading and image management.
Does This Make Sense?
We need to ask ourselves if this model leads to healthy churches? Does it develop healthy pastors? Are these churches helping people know God better? Does this way of church create safe churches for our children and other vulnerable people? Are we becoming more Christlike?
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20