Evangelizing & Franchises

From Gary North’s Critical Mass – Part 15: Designing an Evangelism Program

Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests (Matt. 22:8-10).

The parable of the king who invites guests to his son’s wedding is a familiar one. It illustrates the process of evangelism. The marriage supper of the lamb is the final judgment. The whole world will be brought to this wedding feast, but those who wear no wedding garments will be cast out:

And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen (Matt. 22:11-14).

There are four stages in this selection process. First, the initial invitations went to people who all refused to attend the wedding, or thought they could refuse.

And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my failings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city (Matt. 22:3-7).

This referred to Old Covenant Israel. The fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 fulfilled this prophecy of imminent judgment in history.

Second, the servants go into all the highways, so as to send the invitations to everyone. This refers to the gentile world. The highways constitute the entire world. Third, the wedding feast begins. Everyone must attend. This is the day of final judgment. Fourth, those without the proper garments are cast out. This is the lake of fire.

Why don’t people understand that the wrath of God is both justified and absolute?

Why do people think that God is kidding?

He isn’t.

It is very difficult to persuade anyone to believe that your organization can meet his or her needs. Physical needs are met first by paychecks. Wal-Mart meets most of these needs cheaply. State welfare agencies meet the others. When it comes to spiritual needs, almost nobody regards them as personal needs, since people assume: (1) God meets all these needs free of charge for all people; or (2) these needs have been taken care of by the individual’s existing supplier; or (3) they are not really needs. Reason two is why the first group of people identified by Jesus’ parable paid no attention to the king’s servants. Reasons one and three are why hardly anyone takes seriously the free offer of the gospel.

And now you know, why vast numbers of men, women, and children will explicitly choose burn in the lake of fire forever.

(Few explicitly choose to enter hell, just as few explicitly worship Satan.

But the natural choice of all men is to despise God, and go to hell by a roundabout, self-deceiving route. Salvation, heaven, joy, holiness, and entrance into the Church Triumphant and the New Creation is an extraordinary gift, paid for by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

There is no other way to enter the Joy of the Lord, to be cleansed of our sins, than through the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

But rebellion, damnation, accursedness, hellfire, and the lake of fire is the natural, traditional, and typical destiny of man. It is our proper wages for our defiled nature: a nature that is somewhat obscured by common grace and Divine mercy here on earth, but crystal clear after death, where we become what we always were…

But what we need to be is like Jesus Christ: we need to put on His nature, with all our sins and filth washed away, to enter the Kingdom of God.)

If your church’s evangelism programs have failed to attract visitors, let alone new members, when appealing to spiritual people’s needs, the church must do what successful advertisers do if it expects to grow — to reach critical mass. It must appeal to people’s wants.


What are wants? Wants are goals that people are willing to pay for when they believe that someone else can help them achieve them. They are medium-term and long-term goals which, unlike physical needs, people are willing to buy on a deferred delivery installment plan. Here is a short list of wants that are universal: peace of mind, more friends, a better job, more money at the end of the month, greater control over your life, business connections. social connections, and above all, a sense of purpose or meaning in life. (In Texas, people also want free access to a gymnasium, a racquet ball court, a basketball court, and a whirlpool unit. This is called a “family life center.” Large Baptist churches build them.) Married couples want fewer arguments, obedient children, moral children, better relations with in-laws and children, a good day care program, better education for older children, and a youth group larger than five attendees for each [age group]. Single people want to get married.

Service to people’s wants opens the door to service to people’s needs.

How can a church prove that it can fulfill a traveler’s wants? By targeting primarily those travelers whose wants are met by the congregation’s package of benefits. Because no congregation can fulfill every person’s wants, each must specialize in fulfilling specific wants of just a few targeted groups. Until a congregation has identified those groups whose wants it can uniquely or at least sufficiently fulfill, its evangelism program is unlikely to prosper.

The first step in developing a successful evangelism program is to identify the congregation’s appropriate highway. The second step is to make sure that the offer can be met by the product, i.e., that the promise of being able to fulfill several important wants can be met by the programs that the congregation offers — preferably, programs unique to the congregation.

You have to identify the desires of men, in order to serve them.
After you serve people’s wants, then you may be able to serve people’s needs.

From Gary North’s Critical Mass – Part 16: The Franchise Model

n a previous report, I argued that there are distinct limits to local church growth. The main one is the limit of leadership. There are only a few gifted people who are capable of running large organizations. The church must not base its evangelism programs on the availability of highly competent and gifted people.

A successful church can not be a elitist church. It must be a church grounded in the heart and abilities of the ordinary man.

The text is clear: we are to establish our institutions on the assumption that the wise and gifted people of this world will not join the church until such time as Christianity is dominant in culture and new standards of performance and wisdom prevail.

You can be sure of that! Even more than most men, the Ruling Classes view the Church with a natural distaste…

Even then, the bell-shaped curve of performance will still be in force: a few retarded people, a few geniuses, and most people in between. We must build the church with, at best, ordinary people.

Extraordinary Performance from Ordinary People

The widely known secret of McDonald’s and other franchise businesses is that they have found a system that enables managers to extract extraordinary performance out of ordinary people. What is not widely known is that the original model for all franchise operations is the church. Even the church has generally forgotten that it pioneered the concept of the franchise — and an international franchise at that. its leaders no longer work night and day to find ways to equip ordinary people to produce extraordinary results. The result: the church today barely produces ordinary results, except on the foreign mission field, where the original franchise model is still honored.


Each restaurant has an operations manual. Each seeks to hire ordinary people to serve ordinary people. The goal is not to hire French chefs to serve gourmet dinners. The goal is to make a lot of money. The best way to make lots of money is to serve lots and lots of ordinary people.

Have we ever seen this strategy before? Of course: Jesus’ initial recruits. The only professional among them was a tax collector: low imputed status. God does not recruit extraordinary people to serve as the leaders of His church. God chooses the foolish of the world to confound the wise.

What is said of the British Navy is almost true of the church: an organization designed by geniuses to be run by morons. The church is an organization designed by God to be run by ordinary people. God loves ordinary people, for He has made so many of them.

Not one megachurch, not one cathedral, but vast numbers of small churches, generally house churches.


No member of a megachurch dares utter in public the word which best describes its institutional role: cathedral. No member calls a megachurch’s pastor by his functional office’s title: bishop. (The exception is a charismatic megachurch. Sometimes their pastors do appropriate the title of bishop.)

Yes: Charismatics can understand and obey Biblical instructions more than Calvinists do.

Because American Protestantism is generally congregational, the divide-and-conquer strategy is rejected. Because a man cannot officially become a bishop in most Protestant denominations, ambitious men have as their goal overseeing a megachurch. They seek to establish their visible dominance with big congregations. They seek to become operational bishops: overseeing a horde of assistant pastors and secretaries, thereby becoming the dominant voices in the denominational association. The office of bishop is an inescapable concept. It is never a question of “bishop vs. no bishop.” It is a question of “which kind of bishop?”

“Oh, no,” some dedicated congregationalist objects. “In our association, all the pastors are equal.” Really? If you think that Rev. Bland, pastor of a rural congregation of 75 adult members, has the same clout in the denomination-association as Rev. Sharp, pastor of First Whatever Church of Dallas, with 25,000 members on the roles, a 12,215–pipe organ, and 17 assistant pastors program directors, you are living in fantasyland.

The goal of every church growth program should be to plant sister churches in every section of the community. The problem is this: sister churches do not exist without mother churches, whether official or unofficial. These mother churches today are large, heavily indebted operations: megachurches. Until American Protestantism can at least imitate the Mormons — debt-free buildings — it will be in bondage to bankers. A church-planting system that places the Church of Jesus Christ in bondage to bankers is not going to be blessed by God. Nobody in positions of church authority believes this, of course. They also wonder why God refuses to bless the American church.

Churches enslaved to bankers are careful with their preaching. “Gotta water it down, to keep the money coming in!”

God will not tolerate split loyalties.

Planting a New Congregation: The Franchise Moment

If a pastor is also the manager or owner of an independent preschool or day care, he can make money by establishing another branch of the school. He has an incentive to seek out a young would-be pastor and his wife to run the branch school. Then he encourages this young would-be pastor to start a congregation.

It is at this point that Church A has its moment of truth. Will Pastor A ask 50 members of his 150-member congregation to move under the authority of Pastor B at a new congregation? A man seeking the bishop’s office has an ecclesiastical incentive to do this. In a denomination without bishops, there is no personal church-related incentive to do this. But there may be an economic incentive: income from the new day care branch.

This is the moment of truth because it is the franchise moment. The owner of a McDonald’s franchise is allowed and encouraged to start another McDonald’s locally. He has an economic incentive to do this. He will own the competing franchise. But what about a local pastor? What is his personal incentive to reduce the size of his congregation in order to build up a new one? Almost none.

It’s time to bring back the bishopric.

The church needs growth. How should it achieve this? By systematically re-adopting and applying the church’s original organizational concept: the franchise system.

A congregation needs two things to begin: an operations manual and a good location. A Christian preschool operation can pay for the location. But the operations manual is still missing, almost two millennia after Christ. There is no existing, non-bishop-based church operations manual that establishes both economic and psychological incentives for an ambitious pastor to content himself with a congregation of 200 adults when his talents allow him to serve 500 or 5,000. The small local franchise becomes a great local conglomerate — for a time. But eventually the ecclesiastical equivalent of a buy-out occurs: selling off the assets. Until there is a widely tested, widely imitated solution to the ambitious pastor’s motivation problem, church growth will remain hampered.

It’s time for God’s people to get on the grow!

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