The Church Disposable

There’s a common and unnerving thread running through a few different articles that I’ve read about churches and church plants – a thread that makes me worry, yet again that churches have smuggled in too much business talk.

Recently it seems to have become fashionable in some Christian circles to talk about recycling or “replanting” churches. Insofar as this is something that allows for existing physical structures (and the financial inputs they represent) to be used to again by the wider Christian community, I’ll count this as a good thing. There’s a lot to like about an article like this one by Felipe Assis on church re-planting. What did unnerve were a couple sections:

Bring radical changes. If you are re-planting, you need a clear slate. Even before I arrived I asked the Board of Governors to clear the decks. That meant, letting go of all three staff members, eliminating all programs and, shutting down all committees.”

Now obviously I cannot comment on the contingent situation of a church thousands of kilometres away from me, so maybe it was well and truly necessary to let go of all the existing staff. My worry is whether this sort of action was needed or, what’s more, whether thousands of would-be church re-planters will read this, shrug and reckon that it’s their duty to can everyone from the music director to the janitor. Again, I don’t know in this actual situation what was called for, but given that, outside of the actual pastor, most staff in a smaller congregation are usually support staff working on things like administration or the maintenance of the building, I wonder how much any of these people were an actual impediment to the new vision of the church. Given that the church is supposed to offer redemption to even the most rotten among us, these folks must have either been truly awful people or profoundly resistant change. Putting someone out of work is almost always traumatizing for that individual and their family, so any other answer would be weak sauce.¬†What this sounds like though is the usual corporate language of having the “right people” on board at best and “cleaning house” after some kind of takeover at worst.

I don’t know, maybe I’ve misread the situation (if so I’d happily publish any kind of appropriate edit/clarification/statement), but it does disturb me to think of a ministry casually tossing people out of work because “radical changes” are needed.