Is Your Church a Ministry or An Empire?

October 3, 2011

Is church just another business?

That’s not a new question. Several months ago, everyone laughed at a video that asked “What if church was run like Starbucks?” A couple of years ago, I blogged about my irritation with churches calling their sanctuaries “worship centers” which I think makes churches sound more like WalMarts than places of worship.

But what if it’s deeper than that? What if churches really are run like Starbucks? It’s not just “Worship Center” that has infected our thinking of church. What if we aren’t worshippers, but just cogs in this massive, churning, capitalistic machine that we call “church?”

Today, I’ve got three words, seemingly harmless, that have become so trendy that they have changed what we think church is. If we want to believe that the church is more noble than a mere money making scheme, then we need to banish these words from our vocabularies.


“Launch”

Like I said, the words I’m picking on today are seemingly harmless. But I didn’t just pick them because they sound like nails on a chalkboard to me…though they do.

The word “launch” is one of those words. Why do we need this word?

Fact: we don’t need the word “launch,” because churches don’t put rockets into space, and that is the only acceptable use of the word.

Christians have started using this word to mean that a pastor is going to “plant” a church. What was wrong with the word “plant?” I don’t know. But someone, probably wearing skinny jeans, decided that “planting” a church sounded too boring and evangelical, and we needed a word that captured how awesome we are, like a rocket blasting off, or a mall having its “Grand Opening.”

Yes, I hate the word “launch.”

“Campus”

…But not as much as I hate the word “campus.”

In the old days, you could go to any town and know, more or less, what you were going to get if you went into a church branded with “Methodist” or “Baptist” on the sign. It was a complete package of theology, liturgy, music and preaching, with only minor differences.

But in a time when young, hip Christians hope that crusty old denominations go the way of the dinosaur, we need a word that means the same thing as a denominational label, but looks much cooler.

Enter: “Campus!” Yes, by calling your church a “campus,” it indicates to me, the loyal consumer that when I get a craving for some Jesus, I can go to five convenient locations across town and get the exact same combo meal of music, preaching, and hair gel with the same packaging, quality, and service I’ve come to expect. Just like it doesn’t matter which McDonald’s I go to, I know their food will be terrible (unless it’s a McGriddles.)

Instead of using the word “campus,” why don’t we just use “franchise?”

“Strategy”

The reason I can’t stand words like “strategy” and “launch” is because of what they make people think is needed to have a church. To “launch” a church (thinking like a businessman) you need:

Possibly the most asinine book title ever.

A ton of money, a lot of space, a charismatic “executive” pastor (“executive” is another word I hate), more money, and lots of strategy, well researched, to ensure that your church is launched in the right time and place for maximum “impact.”

If you want to launch a business, yes, you need all of these things. But it’s a lie that you need any of those things to have a church. If you can read, then you can lead a church. No strategy, no money, no charisma. Just you and a few friends and Bibles. You never know what will happen.

But we don’t believe that. A prominent pastor of a wealthy church in my city crashed his church into the ground with financial scandal this year. The church closed. The next week, he “re-launched” in a school. Was there any talk about doing something else, or savoring a time of “simpler” church? No. Immediately, strategies were formed to rebuild bigger than ever, to re-launch the television ministry, to have more financial “campaigns” (there’s another word) and have more impact on all the rich people in the city.

That’s not launching a ministry. That’s launching an empire. And that’s what so many pastors churches seem to be up to, while using a lot of idiotic words which make it more palatable to Christian consumers who are taught to hate “big oil” and “big medicine,” but don’t seem to notice that they’re supporting “big church.”

What do you think? Are they just words, or does using business-y sounding words make church more like a business? Any other words we need to throw out? Tell me about a church in your town that’s out to swallow up all the “Mom and Pop” churches.

54 responses to Is Your Church a Ministry or An Empire?

  1. i think there are several other “words” and “thoughts” that need to be taken out. One of them is seeing the pastor as the CEO and running the church like a business. The pastor was called to be a shepherd of the people not a lord over them. I think a great disservice was done when we began to see the church more like a business and leadership principles were adopted from the business-model. Maybe “Executive Pastor” needs to go?

    • I second that. The term “executive pastor” sounds like an oxymoron to me.

    • I was the “executive assistant” to the head of a para-church ministry, and I have to say, my title always left a bad taste in my mouth. I usually shortened it to “assistant”, so I didn’t feel like a douche. The head of the head of the ministry went by “President” or “Prophet” and his wife was the CIO. We also had an Executive Director. It was definitely run like a business…. a badly run business at that. And that is the thing- since the Church was never meant to be run like a business, it will always end up being a badly run “business” at best.

  2. I attend church at the xoxoxo campus of xoxoxo church. We launched this campus idea two years ago. It was our new strategy. We discovered that people prefer sermons by pastors in person, rather than by video. We had to re-launch our strategy. We’re holding on the the campus concept, mostly as a face-saving measure, but the word is starting to disappear from our bulletins and other communications. Our second “campus” looks more and more like an old-fashioned church plant — we hired a full-time minister for it. And it’s starting to grow, but slowly — because people still think it’s that other thing.

  3. Hi Matt,

    The business buzz words are necessary because we have lost our message but want to keep our institution going.

    Churches have joined the We’ll-Never-Die culture, hiding unpleasant and un-comforting thoughts by ignoring them to dwell on “Life-Issues” and how to get along without getting involved.

    Our only valid message is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without that, folks may as well gather at the Lion’s Club on Sunday mornings.

    John

  4. Ah yes, classic video. “Javalujah!”

    And I know what you mean. Seems like a lot of pastors nowadays want so be Seth Godin. I like Seth, but since when did He become the Other Messiah?

  5. I live in a large city that is very very geographically spread out. It is a frustration of quite a few Christians around that when a hot new church starts up inevitably some people who were attending local churches will start attending the hot new church even though it is a long way away. I’ve known people who were commuting to a church that took at least 80 minutes to get to from where they lived. Some of these churches start up small groups in really far flung suburbs which encourages the trend.

    Most likely the churches mean well and aren’t deliberately luring people from other churches, but I don’t think it is a healthy trend. It is harder for community to develop and people to interact outside services when you might live an hours drive away from the people you sit next to in services. It also seems a bit senseless to have people travel so far when there is probably dozens of good but maybe less flashy churches closer to them. It would also make outreach a bit harder, because non-Christian friends probably aren’t going to want to tag along to events a dozen suburbs away that require a 2 hour round trip to get to.

    Oh, and I agree on finding campus annoying. Campus only sounds right when describing schools or universities.

  6. Y’know what, guys, I’ve avoided all of this “church as business model” baloney by becoming a boring Episcopalian.

    I get to sing 100+ year old hymns every Sunday, which, many times, have touched my soul in a way that no pretty boy in front of a projector ever did.

    At 34 years old, I’m the “token young person” in my Bible study group, but I’ve gleaned some truly remarkable bits of wisdom from folks that have been Christians for much longer than I have.

    And, although there is the usual rangling over getting enough people to donate to the food bank and who’s going to serve coffee afterwards, I can honestly say that I’ve never heard the words you listed above. And there’s certainly no talk of trying to run the church like Starbucks.

    There’s something to be said for going to the same kind of church your grandma attended, I think.

  7. My problem is when churches think they have the solution model for every place and everyone. Church will look different in the suburbs then it does in the city. Church will look different in New York then in it does in California.

    I could certainly be swayed, but I am ok with a church using business principles, but only if they are doing so humbly and not as their primary goal. Their primary goal should be bringing Christ to the people in their community. I do think, however, that it is incredibly tempting to turn into a church empire in today’s world of the church.

    Maybe we need to stick with Jesus’s method by recognizing that great impact comes from being a great servant (Matthew 20:26)

  8. Most of the American church is run like a corporation. It doesn’t matter what terms or adjectives you use – epic, colossal, synergistic, free, true, relevant, church growth, or pie charts – there is an executive model, a business plan, an authority structure, and the worker bees who can work their way up by following the discipleship track, taking 101, 201, 301 and being voted on by the deacons and/or elders. We revere the marketing principals of corporations, the leadership of John Maxwell and the team building of Phil Van Auken.

    I think knowing this sort of stuff can be helpful. It is the same reason we take biology in high school, so that we can be better educated about having a surgery later on in life. The problem is that these terms and church growth methods and models have become our idols and golden calves.

    We pick and choose our favorite speakers, books, seminaries, and Christian t-shirts based on marketing and not the spirit of God. Most of it is purely religious.

    What we need is Jesus in whatever church from he comes in. We need people that hear and obey God, not a bunch of corporate jargon and strategy that creates entities and not a living breathing organism that does the will of the Lord.

    Great post my friend!

  9. Good post Matt. These things have gotten under my skin as well. Take a look at the quote below. It’s from Richard Halverson, the Senate Chaplain 1981-1994, and used extensively by Frank Viola.

    “When the Greeks got the gospel, they turned it into a philosophy; when the Romans got it, they turned it into a government; when the Europeans got it, they turned it into a culture; and when the Americans got it, they turned it into a business.”

    Sad but true. WWJM What would Jesus Market. If we have to stoop to used car tactics to “sell” some Jesus we need some more product knowledge. Number one rule of sales is know your product.

  10. LOL….i was standing next to 3 “important” people I assumed at a concert on friday night…

    These three words were flying out of each month with foam and syliva…gross…but true…

    VERY annoying!!!!

    This campus and that campus and we want to launch this and that and youth this and that and we need to use a secular strategy for that campus to launch a coffee house worship center…and blah blah blah blah….( i threw up a little in my mout)

    Bye.

  11. Ouch! You seem to be describing our church, which has different campuses. But to be honest, at least one of those campuses actually looks like a mini college campus. Most bigger churches in AZ look like campuses, having separate buildings for separate functions–church, kid’s church, church offices, and some sort of social center involving coffee. When we merged with another church last year, the leadership tried to call the different locations “missions”, trying to get people to understand that we are in a mission field in our own backyard, but somehow, we drifted back to the word “campus.” Maybe saying “mission” was too confusing ;-). Leadership still uses the word “plant” instead of “launch” and our only strategy is to point people to Jesus.

    However, I sincerely believe that our church leadership is not trying to build an empire, but trying to spread the good news of God’s redemption to the community. We are not attending it because it has a good strategy, or a “relevant” worship style, but because it has great Bible teaching and because it believes in being the hands and feet of Jesus to the community in which each campus lives.

    • You make a good point that there is no poison in the words themselves. A church can still be a church and use all of these words. I’m painting with a broad brush that can never cover all the particulars.

      And of course, everyone will always say that their church is the exception to the rule :)

  12. If you haven’t already, you should read the book “The Divine Commodity” by Skye Jethani.

    Our church is in the process (thankfully) of revamping it, but they insist on having a “vision statement,” similar to a corporation. My problem with it (as opposed to a “mission statement” which we have as well) is that a “vision statement” has to be something that can be measured. Our old one was that by 2012, we were to be “The most spiritually impacting (sic), multi-cultural body of believers” in our local area. To say that we are the _most_ spiritually-impacting means that we are comparing ourselves to other bodies of believers in our area. While I can’t quote a “thou shalt not compare thyself to others” scripture specifically, I’m pretty sure that general idea is in there. Second to that, how does one define “spiritually-impacting?” Numbers? Of what? And is that how God would define spiritual impact? Is that even a quantity that should be measured?

    (sidebar – we ran into similar issues when I was overseas – you want to be a “good steward” of the funds, so how do you determine which projects are the most “successful?” I think that “good stewardship” is an idol worshiped by many believers nowadays.)

    To me, the only “vision statement” a church should have is the following: “To be obedient every day to God’s will for our lives individually, as families, and as a community of believers.” No date. No metric. And it puts the emphasis back on God rather than “our” impact. A church that is obedient to God will have HIS desired impact. What more could you want?

  13. My husband and I were just discussing this very thing last night. We attended a lecture given by a scientist at a local mega-church, and were overwhelmed just walking onto the “campus”.

    I can’t help but wonder if we are having an identity crisis–we don’t know who we are, what we have, what we can offer. This is evident in so many aspects of what Christians try to do these days, from music, to art, to movies, to church models. It seems like we look at the world and say, “Hey, that worked well there–we should try it!” and then go and make cheap imitations that fool nobody. As a result, we end up with sub-par music and art, hokey sermon series based loosely on pop culture, and churches that we try to run as businesses. If we could find ourselves again, find who the church is supposed to be, if we could remember who is the Source and Inspiration of our faith and our ministry, it seems it would solve a lot of that problem.

  14. While I agree with your point that “the empire” of christendom has become a bit lax in their interaction with God, I think it is very dangerous to make statements like:

    “But itโ€™s a lie that you need any of those things to have a church. If you can read, then you can lead a church.”

    Is this a true statement? I think yes. But I also think it is misleading. Saying that a business model is always bad is misleading, and in truth it isn’t always as easy as sitting a couple people together and reading the bible. Can it be this easy? Of course, but what if those people don’t want to have anything to do with reading the bible? How do you minister to people who have been pillaged and destroyed their whole lives by people proclaiming the goodness of God and scripture? In these cases, it suddenly becomes quite a bit more complex than sitting together and reading the bible. I would hope that we can all get to a point where our practices become so simple, but in my experience so far in ministry it has rarely started that way. I’ve found we often have to come up with a different “strategy.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think our churches should look like Starbucks, or Berkshire-Hathaway, but denying that God could redeem something as “worldy” as utilizing business strategies in the church is denying some of the very essence of God in redeeming the world to him.

    • Just by counting souls I think you’d have to say Matt’s worng here. I mean when’s the last time a denomination based sanctuary occupying so called church with no strategy made a noticable impact on a city?

  15. Matt, I wasn’t sure if that book was real or if you just made a graphic for fun, so I googled “the new church launch marketing plan”. Didn’t find the book, but I didn’t like any of what I found, either.

    I don’t have any profound words to off here. I just came to join your chorus. I dislike those things as much as you do. I would prefer to get rid of all of those words and stick to words like: Jesus, salvation, gospel, grace, mercy, etc.

    Thanks for giving me a laugh while speaking out against those dreaded words.

  16. You forgot about the word “Series.” Series is the new thing in today’s sermons. It’s like, “We’ll be continuing our series on ‘Galatians and the Law’ today…”

    nicodemusatnite.com

    • I wonder how involved is the Holy Spirit in a sermon series… I’m not saying this is the case across the board, but I have to believe that many of them are just man-made.

      • Why do you have to believe that. Most pastors I know spend months planning and studying to lead a series. Of course you could just start on the Tuesday before Sunday trying to figure out what you want to say and then annointing that as Spirit-led to avoid criticism.

  17. I guess I come from a small enough church and denomination that we don’t really use most of those words. We have worked on changing some words, mostly connected to our building. We now call the narthex a lobby…mostly because narthex is a stupid word and most people under 160 years old do not know what it means.

    To offer a counterpoint to all the praise (though I like your point) is that we should work at becoming all things to all men. It’s not for the purpose of being trendy or business-like, but so that by all mean possible we might see some saved.

  18. I hate calling churches “campus” as well. I work at a public liberal arts college. The connotation, well, in most instances, apt. :(

  19. I heard a quote the other day that I think you might like. “The Church is a body, and when the body becomes a business, isn’t that called prostitution?”

    These are some of the same things that get under my skin and I work for a church.

  20. Here are a couple additional words:

    Experience – as in worship experience. So, unless I have a specific emotional response brought on by the worship leader and the band, I haven’t worshiped?

    Ministry Event – Why does everything have to be hyped as an event? Can’t we just go and serve without patting ourselves on the back?

    Very timely topic. My wife and I left “church” almost a year ago. We felt (and still do) led to start a house church. Talk about different. No flashy building, programs, etc. We do use video teaching for the sermon part, but it’s just us and a few others serving those around us. The looks you get – especially from those at the “it” churches – when you tell people you do house church are hilarious.

    In our area, we have “campus” (I like your Wal-Mart term) locations for mega churches in a neighboring city. If these churches would simply put as much effort into serving the community as they do into preparing for and putting on the “worship experiences”.

    Several of these campuses are located all on one road. A friend of ours has a neighbor (non-church goer) that commented that it looks like a row of car dealerships on Sunday with all their flags, banners and such trying to get your attention.

    Sigh.

  21. I couldn’t agree with you more! I can’t stand the idea of church being trendy or relevant. There’s this idea out there that the Bible isn’t enough; we need “something” in addition to make people want to come to church. My church is so simple. We don’t have any extra ministries or programs at our church. There is no preschool church, kids church or youth group. Our pastor didn’t even go to Bible college or seminary. The sermons are based on the Bible and nothing more. I love it!

  22. The only problem is the words you use instead are so culturally loaded as to be utterly unBiblical.

    “Plant” really? what a silly idea some dude is actually going to “plant” a church as in stick something in the ground of the community or whatever and then it will grow into something? As if the Church wasn’t there already . . .

    “Baptist” and “Methodist” really? What do they even mean now? “Denominations” fungible items seperating themselves from each other for no obvious reason. Wow. I grew up in a world where Baptists and Methodists didn’t even associate with each other. And no one wanted anything to do with the Presbyterians! Sure those where holy days where God did great things.

    And “sanctuary”! Let me tell you a little secret about sanctuaries. No one sanctifies them. It’s such a silly archaic idea. Jesus never said build buildings and call them sanctuaries so people will know how to act in them. Oh and put “baptist” on the front so most of my people will know to stay away.

    And as far as strategy goes this country is full of small groups of people with no plan, no passion, and no desire to develop either, sitting in sanctuaries with well labeled denominations. Playing at “church.” While they escort the lambs who stumble into their pen right to the gates of hell. And if that wasn’t sad enough they actually stop and scoff as they shuffle into their traditional purgatory at those people who have given everything up – including – timeworn cultural touchstones to reach the hurting and lost right in front of them.

    • Hey Jim, I’m not offering denominations as alternatives, or the word “plant” as the ideal word. I’m just saying that people are repackaging the same thing and calling it something different.

      • As a general rule it’s probably good to change the terminology every 20 years or so anyway. Its the words that you hold on to that become the idols.

        And anyway, reread the comments above. You might be talking about useless terms but you’ve gathered quite a group here of people complaining about methods not words. They don’t like campuses. They don’t like videos. They don’t like series. In short they don’t like the methods not the words.

        I just left a mega-church with multi-campuses that’s become too enamored with their idols. But the answer isn’t to return to the church of my Grandparents.

        My new church of 140 families (very cozy) is captivated by a vision (yeah I said it) of how this city can change when the Church is permeating every major need in our community. Nothing is as lovely as elderly people trying to keep up with some young punk worship leader because they want music that speaks to this generation. Nothing beats seeing parents gathering food with their kids for a local food bank or young women painting a shelter for trafficked girls.

        You can’t motivate people to be sacrificial with their time and money when they aren’t even willing to give up their “old time religion.”

  23. Did you ever stop and think that it is possible that some of these ‘entities’ use these terms very carefully and intentionally?

    It was mentioned earlier that there is something to be said about attending the same type of church your grandma attended. You’re right. There is. I used to attend my grandma’s church. It’s dying. Figuratively and literally. They can barely pay the electric bill and the average age of regular attendees is about 70. Seriously.

    They do nothing to reach the next generation and raise up new believers and new leaders. They’ve created a culture of comfort and easy-living. And the terms and practices that are associated with them leave people with a very bad taste in their mouths. I credit that this might be a regional, southern baptist thing.

    The Church is the people. Period. There is no scripture that gives us guidelines about what to call what. All it says is to remember to do life together and be the hands of feet of Christ.

    Is it possible that by stripping away confusing nomenclature that has been skewed over the last 50 years it gives us an opportunity to define what certain words actually mean and raise people up beneath those banners?

    • I think part of what I was getting at (above) was that there’s been this trend of “reinventing” church in order to get more young people to go, and I think a lot of churches are shooting themselves in the foot by doing so. “Reaching out to the next generation” at a lot of churches has consisted of creating a lot of fluff that wastes money and ends up not really accomplishing much–I’ve been to those churches. That’s why I left.

      At my own church, there’s been a couple of times where the notion of making changes to attract more young people has come up–having a “contemporary” service for example–and most of the time they get voted down by the people my age.

      • I guess my question would then be how do you define what a church changes to be considered fluff? Are these churches who have changed worship styles and have not seen at least one new person attend? Or are these churches who change to reach out to a new generation and sees 1,000+ people come to know Jesus and get baptized because of that?

  24. I couldn’t agree with you, and John Cowart, more. And speaking of “impact,” that is what happens when a ford rams into your “M Class.” *grr* I hate the way that word is bandied about.

  25. I have to say, I love my church. Sure, we wear jeans, some of the band members wear shorts, heck, the pastor starts off wearing shorts. . .because he helps set up the sanctuary (we rent a school facility). There is a radio-friendly rock style worship (I’m a metal head, and I will have moments with God listening to Metallica, so this is great for me), and yes, the guys actually practice what and how they are going to say it. But they are intent, not on money, but on the message, and there are plenty of personal challenges. I started going because it was close by. I’ve moved, but stayed at my church. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a “Trendy” church, as long as their focus on the Bible is the main thing (I think you’d agree). I went to a traditional Baptist church for years, and though I differ from my southern baptist heritage in many ways, I still tell people I’m Baptist. I wish more “hip” churches would keep the Bible first, and the buisness of attracting people 2nd. . like my church does. I’ve seen the seeker churches you speak of, and they sicken me! Thanks for sharing!

  26. It seems to me that many more people are interested in studying church leadership principles than they are studying what it means to be a servant. Unfortunately it is rewarded too if this is your focus. If you are at smaller church many times your thoughts or ideas are overlooked because how could they be as valuable you don’t lead a large church. I am definitely not saying the pastors of the larger churches make people leading at smaller churches feel this way because I have had some great encounters with Pastors at larger churches but our “Christian Subculture” puts the pressure on us in this area.

  27. I am a fan of all types of churches whether they be “traditional”, mega, or house (or anything in-between). I believe that these types of churches reach out (or appeal) to different types of people who would probably not all feel comfortable with other types of churches. I don’t have a particular problem with most of the “marketing-speak” that you have written about in this post, but do agree that a church is not a business and should not be run as such.

    I would like to mention a good point that Andy Stanley makes about the multi-site (or multi-campus) concept. Traditionally, a church chooses a pastor based on his preaching or oratory ability and just expects him to be a good leader in the day-to-day stuff. By having one “teaching pastor” and a “campus pastor” for each site, they are able to ensure that people who are good at the day-to-day stuff don’t have to worry about speaking every week, and the people who are good at speaking and teaching don’t have to always have their hands in the day-to-day minutiae.

  28. I have nothing really to add. Just wanted to say that I completely agree with you.

  29. We left a megachurch at the beginning of the year and now attend a small (looks a bit like the church in your logo)nondenominational church in our own neighborhood.

    Our little church serves, but with much less fanfare. I like that quietness about our ministries.

    Our former megachurch was a great “starter church”–a good place to learn of Christ’s love and mercy–but when we were ready to learn the rest of the story, we moved.

  30. It seems everyone in the church is tied up in finding significance. (Since I’ve been dealing with this question in my own heart recently, it stands out here also.)

    The problem comes when we focus on the techniques and limits of how to reach people more than the Maker and designer of significance … whether trendy or traditional. God uses modern plans and methods. He also uses stick-in-the-mud traditionalists. We don’t get to say what he will use. After all, he’s fully capable of using an unbeliever who speaks the gospel with mockery.

    The point isn’t the greatness of what we do … but who is the power behind the motion. Greatness comes from God alone. Significance comes from God alone. Meaning comes from God alone. Any church that remembers this won’t be bound by self-promotion, self-sufficiency, or self-centered meanings behind the words they use. We all use words that mean different things to different people.

    When God speaks … the message gets through even if his people make mistakes. Who else can speak “rose” and have the plant show up and multiply to demonstrate what the word meant?

  31. hi matt.

    i tire seeing all the things that are wrong in just about every part of life, churches included, because there isn’t one person that does anything without fault. It is a bottomless pit to go there at all.

    The only thing that we can do is to encourage each believer to look for Jesus in any situation and if we point, we can surely point others toward Jesus.

    When we point at the things that are not Jesus, we may get people’s attention, but, this leads nowhere.

    I understand the dream for a group of believers to be true and as one, as i would also like to see this and be a part of it.

    Yet, as a group of broken people, we can not have this on earth. THe closest we can get is for each one of us to look to Jesus and point other to Jesus, as much as we can.

    ANd realize that we are always in the church…and we rarely glimpse of this truth.

  32. After reading a few comments, I think its important for all of us to remember one thing. . . if Jesus ain’t the center, and the reason, it’s all crap. Old church with hymns and choirs, or a new church plant (launch?) in a middle school with a rock band and young families. Coffee waiting for you or not, hip, or archaic, if you ain’t preachin’ Bible, it don’t matter. THe problem with a lot of the “hip” churches I think you really struggle with, is that they don’t tell people “You are going to Hell if you don’t repent”. . . THAT’S the problem. The gospel has turned in to “if you are healthy and wealthy, you are pleasing God” or “don’t wish for a new car, PRAY AND BELIEVE AND RECIEVE” and a bunch of spiritual B.S. that is NOT scriptural. I go to a church that many might think is an emergent church, pastor wears jeans, associate pastor has an earring, most of the band wears shorts and t-shirts, we have cool LED lighting on the backdrop of a black canvas, and they have a full musical run-through right before the doors open. . . all the makings of that wishy-washy crap. . . they also are doing a Halloween event on Halloween, showing movies, giving out candy, renting big blow-up bounce houses, and everything. . . today, the pastor taught the Romans Road before he did the Baptismal service. He also reminded us Baptism is a requirement. He doesn’t back down from Scripture, and how hard it is sometimes. I’ev walked away feeling VERY crappy. . . because I wasn’t giving my all to God. The pastor’s message pointed that out. . . THAT’S what’s truly missing. . . it’s not about “emergent” churches or being “hip” let’s face it, we all speak different languages. . . musically, sermonally, and everything in between. . . I can’t STAND suit and tie churches. . .I get VERY angry thinking about them, saying “all they care about is that white-washed tombstone outside, while they are dead and judging me on the inside!” but that’s not right either. . . needless to say, I don’t belong with that kind of congregation. . . but we ALL should belong to one that preaches Christ crucified, and risen. We ALL should belong to a church that teaches Hell is very real, and our destination without accepting Christ as our passover lamb. We should ALL belong to a church that makes us feel warm and fuzzy AND also challenges us and makes us uncomfortable. We should ALL attend churches that teach, and practice the Great Commission, whether it’s in our communities, or traveling abroad. . . it’s ALL about Christ, and His words. THe Word of God. . . not whether it’s rock and roll, hymns, tattoos, or suits. . . or Church Plants or Church Launches, or multi-ministry, or one service for all. . .