I can't tell you how many times I have heard this sentiment, often at around the time of the Annual Meeting. "Why Don't we Run the Church More Like A Business?" Its corollary, a rallying cry, "We should run the church more like a business!"
Sometimes it seems like this sentiment has to do with the church budget, other times to do with personnel issues. When I hear it, I'm left with a sense of uneasiness, and a vague sense of what the person might mean. Some how they are expressing, (I think) a sense that if we did things in a more businesslike, step-by-step, rational manner, we would be in some way more successful.
At least, I think that's what they mean. Maybe they mean that they wish they could fire the pastor if the church isn't growing.
Anyway, if you know what it means to "run the church more like a business", let me know.
As for me, sometimes I think we ought to run the church a little less like a business, at least in a few areas.
For example, I think when we are having a church council meeting, we should pray more: not just a short prayer to open our meeting and a short prayer to end the meeting, with almost no mention of "God" in the middle. What if in our business meetings we were constantly listening to God, listening for God, not as a pious exercise, but as a way to get our of our own mind-sets and knee jerk opinions, and into what following Jesus means?
I'm pretty sure this wouldn't mean less disagreements, but our arguments might get a lot more interesting.
I think we should resurrect the word "discernment" in church meetings. Discussions about how we need to get more money, or how we need to attract more people could be replaced by discussions focussing on discernment of our mission: what is it that God is calling us to do; who is it that God is calling us to be?
I'm lukewarm about Parliamentary procedure. It serves a purpose, it keeps order, I suppose, but sometimes I do think it it gets in the way of the Spirit breaking out. I'm still thinking on this one.
Finally, we could remember what the church is, and what the church is for: the church is the people of God, and its mission is to proclaim and live good news, to be good news for other people. Our mission is to be good news of reconciliation, good news of mercy, good news of welcome, good news of justice.