Change Your Church Business Model

No matter how good the past was...

Recently, a wonderful family run restaurant near us went out of business. Even though they had great food, friendly service, and reasonable prices, they didn’t seem to have the wisdom or energy to adapt to how people were dining today. They sat on a side street with limited parking, they had an outdated but comfortable seating area, and an aging cliental of old friends. Obviously the deck was stacked against them. Or was it? One block over was a large hospital, filled with hungry workers and visitors who were tired of the cafeteria’s offerings. This restaurant, however, didn’t offer lunch or take out. I am convinced that a new business model that focused on meeting the needs of those in the neighborhood would have saved the restaurant. But that would have required dying to the way they always did things and redefining their self-identity to include providing good meals for people who are on the go. 


  • In what ways is your church like this family restaurant?
  • In what ways is it different?


In the secular world, stores and restaurants talk about having a business model. This is an overall plan that details the following:


  1. A target audience - The plan must speak in detail about people that we hope to engage as customers or regular members. Saying “we hope to reach everyone,” is a guaranteed way to fail. Today, you must specialize.
  2. An understanding of the target audiences needs - What products and/or services will you provide more conveniently, more affordably, and at a better quality than your competitors. Congregation’s don’t like to think of themselves as having competitors, but they do. Not just other churches, but also, the multitude of options that society presents for living nominal Christianity.
  3. A plan for advertising your mission (product) and location. Also, an ongoing plan for inviting new people to stop by and sample your wares. 
  4. A process for converting occasional users to committed fans.


Try the above with your church leaders. This exercise relates to Reality Check 101’s visioning process (see the section on Radical Rebirth under the Spiral Rule).