3-B Church Life


Some pastors and church leaders mistakenly think ministry is about people keeping. “We got to keep these people coming every Sunday. We got to keep these people giving. We got to keep these people listening to our messages. And most of all, we got to keep these people from going anywhere else.” As leaders, we’re not in the people keeping business. We’re in the people processing business. Some are like raw lumber still out in the forest when we first meet them. Or they may be in the mill or on their way to the factory. Wherever we find them and in whatever state they’re in, our job is to bring them in, and with God’s help, make them thoroughly Christian. We need to find out where these people are in this process of maturing and help them along. Pastor John Wimber

building size.

bucks in the offering.

butts in the seats.

Our pastoral mentor, John Wimber, saw the great need for pastors and churches not to “keep” people but freely give away our very best among us. In recent years, we’ve been pretty upfront about our own confession of being 3-B pastors for most of our thirty-plus years in ministry.

Keep in mind that 3-B pastors or church leaders are ones who measure success (or failure) in ministry by tracking the numbers associated with (B)uilding size, (B)ucks in the offering, and (B)utts in the seats.

As we see it, because of this underlying pressure to be “successful” in the realm of the 3-Bs, pastors and laypeople alike don’t realize that so much of our church programming is actually working against true discipleship. The cold hard truth is that for way too many years at our church, we spent way too little time focusing on how we could aid people in their spiritual growth, while being consumed on how to keep parishioners from slipping out the back door! As Wimber states above, if we would focus more on “processing,” or caring for the people currently attending our churches instead of sweating bullets on how to “keep” people in our buildings, we’d probably see a big increase in our effectiveness toward true discipleship, as defined in the New Testament.

Marty Want more details on our 3-B story? Click here!

Today, as recovering 3-B pastors on our way to becoming Christ-centered 3-C contemplative activists, we’re joining the growing ranks of church leaders and laypeople alike who are stepping out of the 3-B traffic found in so many of our churches, so that we might all better align ourselves with Jesus of Nazareth; who, quite honestly, evaluates our life in Him much better than anyone else!

Our Prayer

Father God, we truly believe that Jesus is not nearly as interested in “keeping” people in church as He is caring for souls. Holy Spirit, help us to let go of 3-B church life and give us the grace to love those who come and go in our churches, knowing that Your charge to us is to make certain each individual is growing in their personal discipleship, becoming more like Jesus, rather than just being another number on the church roles. For Your name’s sake. Amen!

Some Questions to Ponder

  • Where are we, in our churches, allowing the 3-Bs to become our primary measuring stick for “success” or “failure”?
  • Are we too focused on (B)uildings, (B)ucks, and (B)utts in the seats?
  • Is it more important for us to close the back door of our church to get the numbers up than it is to make certain each person currently attending is being fully encouraged to grow in their personalized life with Jesus?
  • How might we better come alongside people, caring more for souls than trying to move folks along some cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all discipleship “process”?


Are you ready to go back to the basics, re-aligning your life in Jesus so that it truly works toward Christ-centered 3-C contemplative activism? Are you up for the 3-C challenge? If so, read more here