Enron and Your Church

The Enron scandal is perhaps the most documented case of corporate greed, cover-up, and dishonesty. The lack of integrity displayed by Enron executives robbed people of millions of dollars and led, at that time, the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history.

In the midst of the scandal, proudly displayed in the lobby at Enron were these stated values:

  • Integrity
  • Communication
  • Respect
  • Excellence

As Enron shows us, stating a set of values or priorities is one thing, but living them is another thing entirely. The vast majority of churches, by God’s grace, won’t endure a scandal of Enron proportions. But a massive disconnect between the stated and the actual does exist often in our churches.

Stephen attended worship services at your church during the Christmas season. While he was there he heard a message that the reality of Jesus, the God of all things who came to earth to rescue us, is the absolute most important news in this world. He heard that this news of Jesus changes everything. The message was liberating, filled with grace. During the Christmas season, Stephen decided he wanted to know more about how Jesus impacts everything. So he is coming to your church now.

What will Stephen discover? Will Stephen discover that the message of the gospel, the message he heard is so transformational and so important, is impacting the total life of your church? Will the messages he hears be rooted in the Jesus he heard heralded over Christmas? Will the teaching in the kid’s ministry, the prayers that are prayed, the invitations to get further connected align with the message Stephen heard of Immanuel? Or will there be a disconnect between what was stated as first importance and what actually is?

Even as church leaders, our hearts are prone to wander from the gospel. Couple that with the reality that hanging a set of values on the wall or printing a doctrinal statement in the bulletin does not ensure those values are in the culture of the church, and we realize that we must continually bring our churches back to the grace of God as the foundation for everything we do. The message of Christmas, the message that Jesus is our salvation, must not be placed in the file folder until next December. It must continually form us.

Over Christmas Stephen heard what is most important. Will he find that what is most important is impacting the day-to-day life of your church? If not, he will struggle to learn that it should impact his day-to-day life.

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Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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