One of my parishioners forwarded this article to me. It concerns church growth and expansion via video links that can reach across the world.
In the article the operative word is "franchise." In the business world one can gain entry into the marketplace by buying into a franchise. In simple terms you put up the money and the mother company provides you with product and the business strategy. In a franchise model there is no room for individuality or creativity because you are marketing their product in the way that they want it marketed.
As I noted here earlier this year the franchise model has come to the church. Witness the main character in this article, Rev. Troy Gramling, a 41 year old, charismatic, self-taught preacher from Paragould, Arkansas. Note his qualifications: self-taught. Apparently he has no Bible college or seminary education, no understanding of Greek or Hebrew, no understanding of systematic theology, no training in counseling or pastoral ministry, and no understanding of church history. What made his Florida church rapidly grow and lead it to expand internationally via satellite? Quoting from the WSJ, "he read articles about Starbucks's branding strategy in the Harvard Business Review. He used a "coffee for Christ" campaign to recruit new members by giving away $10 Starbucks gift cards one Easter. Since 2002, his flock has swelled four-fold."
Ministry as a franchise: you don't need an education, you don't need to immerse yourself in the Scriptures, you don't need to think for yourself. Just study successful business models and apply those techniques to the church. Better yet, just study successful churches and copy their methodology. Cut and paste your name into their logo (if its not copy-righted), copy their worship style, copy their philosophy of ministry and call it your own. I may seem cynical but there are churches out there who actually 'sell' their ideas to aspiring ministers. Practically every church is copying someone else's "successful" church.
At my church I'm currently preaching through the book of II Corinthians. Rev. Troy Gramling, and anyone copying his methodology would do well to study the Apostle Paul's philosophy of ministry as articulated in this epistle. "For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ" (2 Cor. 2:17).
Inspired by Starbucks - WSJ.com