The Church: A Mountain or a Funnel?

mountain churchAt a recent conference I attended, one of the speakers, Todd Jones, talked about how the church should be a mountain and not a funnel.

Here’s what he meant: In most business models, an organization is a funnel in which a message is sent out to a crowd, then a community and then the committed. This is the paradigm espoused by the retail industry. Blanket the most people you can with your message, hone in on who is interested and then reach those who are wiling to buy what your are selling. In the model, the idea is going from large to small. Thus the visual is a funnel.

But in the early Church, a different organizational model was used: the mountain. A small number of committed people (the 12 disciples) spread the word about Christ to the community (those in Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost) and then when that community was filled with the Holy Spirit, that community fanned out to the crowd (the people far and wide in Ephesus, Corinth, Thessalonica, etc.). In this model, the trajectory is going from small to large, so the visual is a mountain.

While it may seem pretty clear when you look at these two models that the Church should be a mountain, the reality is that many churches knowingly or unknowingly function as a funnel. Why? The reasons are many, but often boil down to the fact that people in general are more familiar with the funnel model in other areas their lives so it seems that the Church should be like that too.

What we as a Church need to drill down to is the fact that our role is to build relationships, between ourselves and between us and God. And that can only happen when we start small, one-on-one, and grow from there. Our goal is not to make money or to get the most people physically in the pews. Our goal is work together as the Body of Christ as leaders and laypeople to grow spiritually and faithfully. It’s not about the numbers; it is about our very souls. Start small with a conversation about your faith with one other person this week, and then let the Holy Spirit work to grow the Church from there to more and more people. Become part of the mountain model of the Church today.

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