If economics is literally the law of the house, from the Greek oikos (house) and nomos (law), then ecclesionomics is the law of the church. Just as economics examines the invisible fiscal incentives and disincentives to behavior that shape our everyday life, so too are there invisible and often unconscious financial incentives and disincentives that shape our church-related behavior.
The predominant model of church that most of us enjoy today is shaped by just such invisible incentives and disincentives that stem as much from invisible economic forces as they do from the mandates of Holy Scripture. Now before you read this as a cynical assault on the hows and whys of our church, hear me out.
I’m not questioning the biblical roots of our personal salvation, or divinely ordained mandate to gather together in communities of worship, fellowship, ministry, discipleship, evangelism, and mission. These Christian behaviors are indisputably grounded in our desire to follow and please our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
But what other, invisible incentives influence the way we do church and start new churches? This is the question that draws our attention to ecclesionomics.
The church paradigm that dominates our American church landscape is characterized by a building and property that are owned by (or rented by) a local congregation. This expression of church has clear economic implications, ecclesionomics. Without a tithing congregation there can be no building, whether rented or owned.
Likewise, the traditional church model in America entails a pastor, and if the church is growing, a staff that may include ministers of worship, youth, administration, and a growing body of shepherds that coincide with the church’s ability to support them.
This economic model of church has proven to be a viable paradigm that produces numeric growth and quality of expression when it is done well. When it is not done well, the inherent disincentives result in diminished growth and a resulting decline in economic capacity for perpetuation.
What happens when our ecclesionomic paradigm doesn’t serve the mandates of our Lord to “make disciples of all nations?” We’ll examine that in Ecclesionomics, Part Two.
Dr. David Garrison is the Executive Director of Global Gates, a ministry that reaches the ends of the earth through global gateway cities. Learn more about Global Gates at GlobalGates.info. Mission Nexus member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.