Several years ago, Harvard Business Review posted an article called Marketing Myopia that described how many companies fail because at some point along the way they forget what business they are in. Think about it- why did the railroad industry decline as a mode of travel? The answer is simple. The railroad tycoons mistakenly thought they were in the railroad industry while, in reality, they were in the transportation industry. If they had realized, many would have almost certainly invested millions in the airplane.
The same could be said about telegraph companies. In 1886, savvy telegraph investors could’ve bought all telephone patents for about $40,000. But they didn’t. Why? Simple, they had forgotten that they were not simply in the telegraph business. They were in the communication business. As a result, the telegraph died.
It doesn’t take long to look around us as and see church after church that is sick and dying or have little impact because they have forgotten what “business” they’re in. So, the question is, “what business is the church in?” Some would say its to walk with people during times of transition in life (marriage, birth, death) or maybe to provide guidance and comfort to people who are in need. Yes, the gravitational pull of every church is inward. All of them- including yours and mine- are tempted to become religious clubs and enter a maintenance mentality where their main business is only to serve their members needs. Those are important, sure. But they are not the primary business of the church.
Jesus made it clear what the business of the church is:
Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The 1st Christians got it. They knew that being redeemed by Jesus changed everything. They knew that their job was no longer just a job; it was their mission field. It meant that every domain of their life was a context to carry out the “business” of the church- making disciples.