We know what failure means when it comes to business. It means that the business did not make enough money. It means that the owner could not feed his or her family. And beside the financial cost, there is probably a big emotional cost to a failed business as well. People pour their hearts into something that they hope will succeed and when it does not, it feels more like a personal failure.
But what does it mean for a church to fail?
This last week, I saw not one but two blogs about churches that “failed,” meaning they closed shop, went out of business, so to speak.
My heart went out to the authors, because I’ve been there. I’ve been a part of a church that ended. And it is heartbreaking.
But at the same time, I ask myself, what do we mean by a church failing? A church is not a business. A church is not a corporation. So what happens when we define a church in the terms of a business? What happens when we define “success” and “failure” the same way Wal-Mart defines those terms?
I have made a realization in the years since my own church failed. What happens is that the church has not failed. We have failed to define “church.”