Coming Soon to a Location Near You

10/27/2008

I don't know about you, but I have recently rekindled my thought process about the "franchising of churches." I say rekindled because once the FBC Jackson "takeover" of Calvary was thwarted last summer, I have really made an intentional effort not to be critical or cynical of other churches. I must say, I have done better than I thought, maybe that is because I realize I can do "nothing" about this method of church growth. Still, I get gagged every now and then when I see what churches are doing. It almost appears as if these "franchising churches" act a little like Ray Kroc.

One reason this subject has resurfaced is due to the new church start in the town of Clinton, where I reside. Pinelake Baptist Church in Brandon, (which tried to takeover FBC Ridgeland about a year ago, then subsequently moved their first "franchise" down the road from FBC Ridgeland when the members of FBC Ridgeland voted against the takeover), has now renovated a storefront ($250,000) near my neighborhood in order to "franchise" their brand of church/theology/worship in Clinton.

Can someone PLEASE tell me why people allow church leaders to do this?

I have recently driven around the area of where this "new church" will be. There are 9 Baptist churches already within a 2-mile radius of this new McPinelake. Three of these Baptist churches have a membership of more than 500 people. The "Big 3," as I call them, are all different in preaching style, worship style, etc. So, to say the reason to start a "new franchise" for "diversity" is ridiculous.

Now, I do realize that the Kingdom of God is way bigger than I can fathom and maybe I am reading more into this than I should. Yet, I want to say to Pinelake the same thing I wanted to say to Stan Buckley and FBC Jackson when they tried to takeover Calvary. And that is, "What makes you think we are doing church "wrong" or that we are "dead?" If these churches were really interested in improving the spiritual conditions of the people at Calvary or in Clinton then why not "partner" with the already existing churches?

I mentioned Ray Kroc earlier. I am not sure how many of you know him or his story. So, here's a brief history. Ray Kroc was a milkshake salesman. One day he visited a store where the owners had been purchasing vast amounts of his milkshake products. Shortly after seeing first hand the booming business these "burger joints" were enjoying, he made a deal with the owners and bought them out. The name of his new chain of franchises, McDonald's. Oh yeah, one more thing, when those guys who sold to Kroc began opening new burger places, he would open a McDonald's nearby and eventually drove them out of business.

I am not naive enough to think that these new "franchises" aren't part of some great egocentric desire to say "look at us and what God is doing." And, I am sure that these "mother" churches are doing a fine job of meeting peoples spiritual needs in their "original" locations. But why franchise? Isn't there enough to do and be as a church where you first came into existence? Why not help other churches that are struggling?

So, I suppose the question I would ask, "What would Jesus say about "church franchising?" I doubt He would say, "How can I help you today? Would you like to try our new Sunday school worship combo? You can get it light with water if you want!"

Boom like that,
John


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