If God were GM, He would close a lot of dealerships


Both General Motors and Chrysler have announced that up to 25% of their dealerships will not have their franchises renewed.  Reasons cited were:

  1. Some dealers did not carry the full brand lineup. Chrysler wants dealers who carry their entire line from trucks to cars to Jeeps.
  2. Some dealers also carried competitors’ brands. That’s pretty common in smaller communities where one dealership might carry brands and models most suited to their market.
  3. Most of these dealers under-performed. Chrysler said that 25% accounted for only 15% of its total sales.
  4. Some brands are being discontinued. Wouldn’t want to be a Pontiac dealer right now, would you?  Also, Saturn, Hummer, and Saab are on the chopping block one way or another at GM.

But what if we applied that same criteria to churches?  Would your church be in business next week?

Some churches don’t carry the full lineup.  Many prefer to emphasize only the spiritual side of the faith, while leaving off any attempt at physical ministry.  Others are just the opposite, with lots of social programs, but little in the way of evangelism and discipleship.  You get the picture.  Should these churches keep their doors open?

Some churches carry the competitor’s brands, too. Okay, we’ve got to tread carefully here, but I’m thinking particularly about Fred Phelps’ church, Westboro Baptist.  They spew hate and venom towards any and everyone at any opportunity they can get.  They would be the extreme example, but other churches also help the “competition” by either not living the difference Christ makes or by taking a stand in an unloving manner.

Some churches under-perform. GM and Chrysler use an objective criteria to weed out the under-performing dealers — sales numbers.  But, some churches also under-perform in attendance, missions, programs, and outreach.  What should happen to these churches?  I have often contended here that we need to measure more than attendance, especially in small churches; but, even when measuring other factors some churches aren’t cutting it.  What should they do?

Some brands are being discontinued. Denominational identity is fading, as are a host of other emphases that once were very popular.  Remember the 1970s charismatic movement, or spiritual gifts surveys?  Lots of “brands” come and go, and if a church is heavily invested in one narrow perspective, it may find itself out of business in a changing culture.

Fortunately, God is not GM or Chrsyler and churches aren’t dealerships.  Churches tend to rise and decline in an organizational life cycle which can be accelerated by forces outside the church.  But even if we aren’t automotive dealership managers, it might help us to take an inventory of effectiveness periodically.  We might be either surprised or horrified at the result.  What do you think?

10 thoughts on “If God were GM, He would close a lot of dealerships”

  1. Chuck, once again you have hit it out of the park. Your blog is a must read for me. I am looking forward to meeting you at the NOC in November.

  2. Well-said, Chuck!

    I appreciate how you “connect the dots”.
    Definitely a “SELAH – think about it” post.


  3. Historically, we don’t have good protocols in the church for shutting things down when their time is done. Institutions begun by maverick leaders are now “maintained” by “managers.” The secular model of mergers and acquisitions is eschewed as people become territorial or emotional.

    “To everything there is a season…”

  4. The good news that God isn’t a business. I know of some money hungry denominational guys that wanted to sell up a Pastor friend of mine’s small church, for the real estate. A 100 year old building & land in a commercial area. Fortunately another Pastor helped him out to fight them off, and now that church is steadily growing.

    With GM, if the Auto Unions hadn’t bankrupted the company with their ridiculous pension plans, they would probably not be in this position. More Obama kickbacks for the Chicago & Detroit crowd. It will all come out in due course.

  5. As long as we take the look at our own church and not the one down the street, I think this is very important. God is the judge of all our work, but we have to be good and faithful stewards for sure. Great way to get us all thinking.

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