Mike Yaconelli on Business Models & Church

kinnon —  August 20, 2007 — 8 Comments

Mak’s link to Rick Meigs original post showed up first in my Google Reader. It was worth reading twice. Perhaps even thrice:

It really bugs me that we have decided in our churches to come up with the management model and that is the model we’re using to govern most of our churches. So we got to have a strategic plans. We’ve got to have a missions statement. We’ve got to have little forms to fill out to put down what we are doing. Give me a break! The church is not IBM!… Who in the Hell came up with that idea?! Mike Yaconelli, cofounder of Youth Specialties

I’m thinking, perhaps it was this guy:


Naked Pastor GIMME! Ministries #2: People Group



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

8 responses to Mike Yaconelli on Business Models & Church

  1. Trust no one who says the church shouldn’t have a management model or strategic plans. What they are setting up is organizational chaos that is dependent upon them to constantly resolve. It’s a red herring, and a myth, and not true.

    The problem is BAD management models.

  2. I do think it’s a pendulum, Ed. The church has swung to the Maxwell/Collins/BHAG far edge of that trajectory and we have ended up with churches that are led by CEO’s (ones who would probably never make it in the business world, but I digress) who appear more like the Shepherds in Ezekiel 34 than they do like the leaders Jesus describes in Matthew 20:25 and on. Strategies, dreams, plans, etc are not inherently bad – but when people are just numbers, we have a problem.

  3. Oh, yes, one more thing. It is irresponsible and bad stewardship to think that you don’t need some organization in the church. I bet Youth Specialties operates on some business model that ensures that they pay their bills, meet their goals, and file annual tax forms. That is what a management model is. Thanks for bringing this to light, Bill.

  4. Just a note that Yaconelli past away almost four years ago – and as one of the founders of The Door, Mike was known as a bit of polemicist.

  5. The problem isn’t the Maxwell/Collins/BHAG business model. The problem is in the character of leaders who use these things to hide their inadequacies. So, Yaconelli should not be criticizing management models, but church leaders who use them for their own personal gain. It’s the old dualistic thinking what divides things as if things are good and evil. The good and evil are in the heart and actions of human beings who use things for good and evil ends. The question should be what management model is appropriate for XYZ church. I’d say more, but I’ve just been called to dinner.

  6. Actually, as rarely as it happens, I disagree with you Ed.

    The problem is that when we begin to apply business metrics to the church we fundamentally change what the Body of Christ is. Maxwell has made a career of selling business poppycock to church leaders with them believing this crap will help them grow their churches. There are enough “success stories” to keep people coming back to this stagnant trough – but what these “successful pastors” are building is more business than it is church.

    As an occasional business person (I’ve been self-employed for most of the past twenty-six years), I love Jim Collins. It DOES drive me crazy, however, that I see well-worn copies of his book G2G on most pastors’ desks – with them trying to “get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off.” And I know way to many sociopaths in shepherds clothing who use BHAGs to keep their money making machines moving forward.

    I believe that the church, the living, breathing Body of Christ is more an organism than an organization. The health of that organization is in its relationships – both within and without. Where management models can aid in the health of the organism, they can have some efficacy – but when the management models control the life of the church, they actually kill that life. I would suggest that there are a lot of “Dead Churches Walking” in the Western World.

  7. I agree with most of what you both said, and Yaconelli is one of my favorite authors. But, it is much deeper than a business model or no business model approach. We have a crisis in this country of no men attending church and it effects the health of every church. Women are now 2/3 of the church goers and doing a great job, but are burning out in record numbers! Men (young men especially are abandoning the church in droves!) When the masculine spirit is taken out of the church, people grasp for things to hold onto (i.e. “measuring”, turning to “business models”, which may not be bad in and of themselves, busyness). If a church has a strong Godly masculine spirit and equally a strong, Godly feminine spirit it will be balanced and it won’t matter if it uses a “business model” or not, because at the core, it will be a healthy church. I know I kinda went off topic here, and thanks for hearing me out, but I think that the overly feminized church, which has thrown everything out of whack and is the key issue that nobody seems to be talking about! Just how the enemy wants it. :)) Thanks and God Bless!

  8. God didn’t call the body to be a business….yet, so many churches, in their feeble attempt to grow…have chosen to run the church like a business rather than be about their Father’s business. Buildings and amenities do not grow a church…..relationships and people do.


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