Skip to content

A Quality Church


In between college and seminary I did what any
self-respecting person with a BA in psychology would do: I got a job in the
tech industry. At one point this particular company fell into a slump and the
senior management did what most companies sliding toward the edge of a
sustainability cliff do: that’s right, they started a *Quality Program*.

Soon us worker bees could be heard droning on through the hallways of the building that mantra that was going to save us all: “Quality is adherence to standards.”

That’s right. Just publish and enforce consistent
standards and the world would beat a path to your door. Stay focused inwards,
don’t ask tough questions of purpose and connect those answers to daily
activities that move you toward that purpose, just repeat after me (in your
best Zombie drone) “Quality is adherence to standards”.

I’ve witnessed this same misplaced focus in mainline denominations
as well. In a former church body our congregation was asked to host a “Best Practices
in Ministry” workshop.  It was a very good intentioned effort to share ideas about ministry practices from what were considered to be shining examples in the church. I only functioned as the host,
others planned the event. So I was a bit taken aback the day the event opened
when I looked at the workshop listing .

All the presenters were from one church body.

Our city has only about a dozen congregations from that church body in a
city of approximately 1400 congregations.  How is it that in areas like Worship, Christian
education, youth ministry and evangelism no one in the Body of Christ in that
city, outside of that denomination, had anything useful to say? It was kind of
like the World Series where we call it ‘World’ but no other countries are
invited. It was supposed to be a best practices workshop, not a ‘let’s pool our
collective mediocrity and hope that fixes everything’ workshop. Repeat after me
“Quality is adherence to standards.”

I’ve noticed a very painful trend among churches slipping
away from an orthodox position. Rather than returning to the Word and the
collective wisdom of twenty centuries of Christian thought, when things get
tough they tend to circle up the wagons, pick up on a cultural trend and  enforce the standards, looking  to the short-term programmatic fixes .

In the short run, this is less painful than repenting of slipping away from mission
and purpose. It’s much easier to go out and get the latest program from the denominational
publishing house and ‘get busy’ than to look deeply into the Word and realize
that we may have been running headlong in the opposite direction that our Lord
has called us to. When the louder question is “Is that Lutheran/Episcopalian
etc” rather than “does this honor Christ and the Great Commission” then we know
that rather than pursuing the heart of God we are just starting another quality


Mark Wilhelm

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 8July2011 13:22

    I’ve been reading through Frank Viola and Len Sweet’s Jesus Manifesto. Great book. One of the early points was to say that Christianity is all about Jesus. Totally. Perhaps a statement of the obvious, but according to them, neccesary to reiterate. For too many, Jesus has been pushed to the perimeter. People want to go deeper than Jesus or beyond Jesus to the deeper meaning of Christianity. There is nothing beyond Christ.

    It seems that many of the programatic fixes that are generated are not centered upon Christ but one of these, so called, “deeper meanings” of the Christian faith. We also do a darn good job of attempting spiritual manipulation to get people into our doors. We often love people because they would be another envelope for the offering plate and tic on the attendance books. We love folks so that…. instead of loving folks, period.

    Good Thoughts Mark!


  2. 8July2011 16:49

    Since before I ever considered seminary, much of my frustration as a Christ follower was the plethora of programs and initiatives designed (and often guaranteed) to re-vitalize, energize, and make your ministry ‘successful.” I resent cultural definitions of successful, and big box solutions to the fallout of having failed to keep Christ in the center.

    Thanks for sharing.
    KMS @ CCD

  3. 8July2011 19:36

    I agree with Katie and Scott, excellent synopsis of a current issue in the church, Mark. There is no quick fix. We cannot get to “discipleship” without giving our lives to Jesus. So many programs fall short and want to fix the things that we aren’t good at, or focus our energies on being something that we are not. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: