Fairfax Community Church, a mega church in the Washington, D.C. area I would contend follows a business model. This is why the church is deeply troubled and has issues. The fact that Andy Gingrich who worked at Fairfax for 9 years transitioned from one business model to another shows how evangelicalism is a business. But in light of the fact that Andy also coaches people and talks about leadership did Andy Gingrich do the right thing during his tenure and raise the issue of the church employing Eric Nickle, a violent sex offender, with Senior Pastor Rod Stafford? Or did he just go along with take orders and stay silent for years?
“I help people and organizations find their brilliance and magnify it. My expertise is developing communication and emotional intelligence to grow leadership capacity. I’m adept at creating individual, team, and organization-wide development plans that strengthen culture by honoring the values that define how people show up to the work they love to do.”
How Andy defines himself on LinkedIn.
“A business model is supposed to answer who your customer is, what value you can create/add for the customer and how you can do that at reasonable costs.”
“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
The last time I wrote about Fairfax Community Church was in regards to a story I had published. A female who was having a mental health crisis and allegedly suicidal thoughts reached out to the church for help. As is common at Fairfax Community Church she was ignored. You can read the post in, ‘“They Don’t Care About You!” A Woman Dealing with Suicidal Thoughts and in a Crisis Allegedly Couldn’t Get Help by Fairfax Community Church.’ In trying to think why Fairfax Community Church acts this way I started to think of the standard business model. Let me explain in the next section.
When Church Follows a Business Model
Now it college and grad school I studied history. My background is not in studying business in higher education. If you have studied this and find my explanation lacking by all means please correct me. But from what I read a business model is a form of art. A business model is a conceptual structure that supports the viability of the product or the company. It also explains how the company operates, makes money, and how it intends to achieve its goals. All of the business processes and policies that a company adopts and follows are part of the business model. The business model also promotes that company and gives a need to the customer. Every business model has basically three parts.
- Everything related to designing and manufacturing the product.
- Everything that is related to selling the product. That includes distributing the product from getting it into the right hands.
- Everything related to how a customer will pay and make money.
According to my research there are different types of business models.
- Manufacturer that makes a finished product from raw materials. It can sell in different forms. Examples of this kind of business model can be manufacturer like Ford, Volvo, General Electric, Whirlpool, Epson, and others.
- A distributor sells product from manufacturers and gets them out into the marketplace. Products are resold to the retailers or the public.
- Aggregator is a recently developed business model where a company as a service provider develops unique brand that becomes a niche. This would include companies like Airbnb, Uber and others.
- A retailer sells directly to the public after buying the product from the distributor or wholesaler. Examples of this can include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Wal Mart, and more.
- Franchise is another model. A franchise can follow a manufacturer, distributor or retailer. They agree to follow the business model that is set up for them. Companies develop policies for how the franchise will work. People often have to buy into the franchise. Examples of this can include Carls Jr, Hardee, Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Pizza Hut.
- Bricks-and-Clicks have both an online and offline presence. A customer can order online and then pick it up at the physical location. This model allows flexibility for those who live far away.
- Nickel-and-Dime is provided to customers who are very cost sensitive. They are priced as low as possible. An example will be Southwest Airlines.
- Freemium is a business model you see on the internet. They provide basic services for free and then charge extra for unique or high quality services. YouTube is a good example of this. You can have basic access but then upgrade for a cost.
- Subscription is another model that can be followed. It can support customers over a long term contract. They have to re-enroll and are thus charged. Examples of this can be Netflix or Hulu.
- High touch requires a lot of human interaction. The relationship between the customer and the salesperson can generate great financial value for the company. Companies like this operate on trust and credibility. Examples of this can be Supercuts or Hair Cuttery.
- Low Touch requires infrequent interaction. There is not a large salesforce on the floor that helps people. An example can be Ikea.
So what business model do I think Fairfax Community Church follows? In my thought process I would have to say it would be the franchise concept. They have a plan, they are out to make money. They try and get consumers into their Braddock Road location. They will launch another location in Maryland that can operates as a carbon copy. Franchises can be great ways to make money. If you doubt me ask someone who opens up a Chick Fil-A location. Some franchises are sensitive to their image while others are not. Chick Fil-A is sensitive to their image as they want their costumers to be happy. Other franchises don’t care as much. They have a large pool to draw from and if you are not happy or have a good satisfaction experience they could care less. They have other people to draw from who can support their business model. If Fairfax Community Church cared about people they would be addressing these issues, but according to what I have heard they are not.
Fairfax Community Church has a business model. They want to grow and they need people to give money. Rod Stafford and his wife Donna from what I heard also take care of generous financial givers. In 2018 a source told me that at Rod Stafford’s Bed and Breakfast outside downtown Fairfax the George Mason students or wealthy givers have allegedly been allowed to stay for free. Rod Stafford is allegedly concerned for his income flow and he wants to protect it. The person who told me that was disillusioned because allegedly preferential treatment was given to wealthy people and not those who have financial need.
Sex Offenders and Child Sex Abuse and the Business Model
So here is another question to ask, what do you do in your business model if you have an employee on the Virginia sex offender registry? The answer I think is to downplay it as you don’t want to disrupt the cash flow. How can a business operate if its going to lose money? That goes against the business model. For me this also explains why Fairfax Community Church is not a church. It would have been in the church’s interest as well as Eric Nickle to be transparent about this topic. After all I am not opposed to a sex offender being there, what I am opposed to is Fairfax concealing it and not telling the community. Honesty is the best policy and in this area Fairfax has been deceitful. There is a disturbing level of dishonesty in this situation. Is this another way why some churches cover up sex abuse and hide sexual offenders? Their commitment to the brand, or the model is more important than serving the community they claim they serve?
Who is Andy Gingrich?
Andy Gingrich used to be the Community Life Director at Fairfax Community Church from 2008 until May of 2017. If my memory serves me correct I believe he told me that he is from the Northeast United States and spent time in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church. Andy got a B.A from Cedarville University in 2001 and a M.A from Dallas Theological Seminary in 2006. He then attended the Leadership Coaching Program at Georgetown University in 2014. Andy went and worked at Providence Baptist Church in McLean, Virginia from June 2006 until April of 2008. He then joined Fairfax Community Church in May of 2008. What he did there was vet people for small group leadership. He claims to have developed 500 leaders in his tenure at Fairfax. He left Fairfax and joined Within People. There he worked with leaders to help organizations find purpose. He was there for 7 months. Currently he is the coach of Gingrich Coaching which he started in April of 2014. He is certified as a professional coach.
A Question About Eric Nickle, Plus Andy Gingrich Transfers From One Business to Another
In September of 2018 at Inner Will, Andy wrote a blog post about leadership. In the article he speaks about how values are the lifeblood of thriving families, communities and organizations. Andy writes about how values guide our behavior. As the article continues he looks at different sides of the coin – the leader’s mirror and the leader’s map. I am not going to discuss this article at length, you can read it if you desire. What I find interesting is the following aspect. Andy currently likes to talk about leadership. The question that needs to be asked is when Andy was at Fairfax Community Church did he know that Eric Nickel was on the Virginia sex offender registry? Did he do the right thing and try to speak with leadership about the situation? Or did Andy just go with the flow and leave the topic alone? Honestly I am curious because true leadership is having the courage to do the right thing in difficult situations. If you want to test the character of someone see how they react in difficult moments. This also raises the question of other staff as well. Did Kyle Cooper do the right thing or did he go along with the situation? I am going to have to pick another member of the staff and write an open letter about how its time to notify people that the church has employed a registered sex offender. I recently had someone who emailed me and they said they left Fairfax because they were sexually abused in their youth and they were troubled a church would hire a person and not be transparent about it.
But getting back to the subject of this post. Andy Gingrich left one business and in time was starting his own. He shifted from one culture that had a business model and moved to another after building his own business model. In his business model he is about growth, product and satisfying the customer. The situation has changed but the same principle applies. This is a post that I have been meaning to do for a while and before I dive back into other scandals such as Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago I wanted to finish this and get this published. Its my contention that one of the reasons why much evangelicalism is sick is because it has embraced the business model. The business model is a flawed model to follow in the spiritual context of church. The application of it at Fairfax Community Church shows a church that has failed both its attenders, community and the region that it calls home.