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I recognize your point about how these organizations are seperate from the churches pastored by these men. They are indeed businesses which are offering products to their customers (other pastors/leaders)...

What strikes me however, is that I see nothing which should prevent us from recognzing the churches themselves as businesses, and yes, that would then apply to all churches, not just the three being headed by these men.

If these Associations/Networks are really just big businesses (and they definitely are), then they are more of an "internal industry" type of business, akin to a company that say makes medical equipment, since they aren't targeting the broader consumer market, but a rather specific strata of professionals.

The churches then (and that would mean all churches, not just mega-churches...) would be the "retail" setups. That's where the "product" eventually makes it's way through the industry insiders and eventually to the mass public. The local pastor is the shopkeeper, so to speak...

How would we draw the line which would make Drucker and Co. guilty of wheeling and dealing in intellectual property, and the rest of the American churchscape innocent? Because we call them "churches"? If Warren and Hybels and the like are "moonlighting", then they are really just doing what would be the common-sense entrepreunerial move. They've discovered a largely untapped market, and jumped in. While other pastors are content to sell their "knowledge-based products" to the relatively small confines of a local congregation, these guys have their sights set higher. Can we really criticize them for that? So the product got out of hand and has now taken on a life of it's own, so what? That happens right? They can't "recall" it, because it has now been put into the hands of countless others. It's not their baby anymore. But that's not even their concern really. The major concern of someone who is hocking "knowledge" isn't faithfulness to the Truth, but rather when their next product line is coming out...

So in answer to your question (i.e. the title of your post)... Maybe we're all a little responsible, because in one way or another, we've all been sucked into the trap of turning the Gospel into just another "knowledge-based product"...

Phil Hodge

A classic problem of competition is the erosion or decline in quality standards over time. Standards erode, or fail to continually advance with competition. To the extent that the businesses LN, PDN, and WA are in competition to sell to the church leader and pastor market, the erosion of doctrinal safety is predictable. It is very easy and almost too tempting to keep focus. Even Drucker would agree. So, I believe your admonition is right on. Christian churches today are fragmented enough because of the CEO driven model and therefore in “competition” for support. An added parallel “business line”, unattended for doctrinal accuracy, is by nature confusing and problematic at best.


Wow, great insight. But not to steal your thunder, this was already figured out by a guy with the initials ML...Kingdom of the Left meet Kingdom of the Right. You rightly point out the difference and the fact that what is happening is a disastrous result when the K of R tries to fuse itself with the K of L...or maybe, the other way around?

cynthia curran

Well, some research has found that the past 10 years are the slowest growth years for evangelicals in a long time Granted, the big churches get the crowds but actually a lot of people have dropped out of small evangelical churches. Both Cook County IL and Orange County Ca still have a lot of people not committed to any church. According to even Gallup and Pew both counties have church attended below the national average which means both Hybels and Warren have failed miserly even with large churches to attract the non church types. Too much modernism and lack of a historical awareness of the christian church thru out the ages.

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