One leader I talked to used the Hyatt hotel chain as an illustration. In 2015 Hyatt had 97,000 employees.4 By contrast, Airbnb had 2,300. Yet Airbnb had far more rooms available than Hyatt! In fact, three years later they have more rooms available than the top five hotel chains combined!6 How did they do this? They put the hotel industry into the hands of the everyday person. Not everyone has the ability to raise tens of millions of dollars to buy land and build a luxury hotel. But anyone with a smartphone can now rent out a room in his or her house. They rapidly grew to four million listings without building a single facility!
The Church needs to learn from this. When you’re caught in a long-standing model or structure, any alternative seems laughable. But history is full of models, companies, and inventions that became obsolete almost overnight because someone dreamed of a revolutionary new way to do something. The new thing always seems to be simpler and more efficient with fewer barriers to entry.
So what would a revolution in church structure look like? What are the inefficiencies and unnecessary appendages we’re blind and numb to? What would happen if we put the Church back into the hands of the ordinary Christian? Could we see exponential growth at a fraction of the cost? Is Churchbnb possible?
I believe it’s possible because it has been happening overseas for years, and it has been steadily increasing throughout the US. In San Francisco, we have been experimenting with churches led by Christians with full-time jobs. These are professionals in the workplace who pastor small churches out of their homes. These leaders can now transplant anywhere in the world without any need to raise support. They know how to work and pastor at the same time. They know how to work hard and well in the workplace while having a natural setting to build friendships with those who don’t know Jesus. This has possibilities in any city in America as well as any city on earth. Not only have we found Churchbnb to be possible, but it also provides a practical solution to many of the problems facing the traditional model of church.
Francis Chan, Letters to the Church (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2018).
I have just completed a nine-session Bible study based on Francis Chan’s new book, Letters to the Church. It is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription plan. The idea is to invite each participant to purchase their own book. Sessions include:
- Chapter 1: The Departure
- Chapter 2: Sacred
- Chapter 3: The Order
- Chapter 4: The Gang
- Chapter 5: Servants
- Chapter 6: Good Shepherds
- Chapter 7: Crucified
- Chapter 8: Unleashed
- Chapter 9: Church Again