The church is not a business. And yet the church is tasked with the most important business on planet earth. As any ministry leader knows, help that fact creates enormous pressure to be effective. So we’re driven to learn and tweak and constantly improve how we do ministry, for the sake of greater impact in people’s lives.
And while there’s a ton of learning available in the ministry world, I think it’s exceedingly important that church leaders also lean in and learn from the business world.
Here are 2 reasons why I’m passionate about this:
(1) Because God invented business.
It’s time we abandon the myth of “us” and “them.” As if it’s more holy to get a paycheck from a church than it is from an insurance company. I’m not downplaying the seriousness of a call to vocational ministry, but I am pointing out that every Christian has a full-time calling on his or her life, to serve Jesus Christ wholeheartedly with every breath.
Business is holy. It was created by God. God invented the idea of commerce, by virtue of the imagination that He breathed into Adam and Eve. When He created humans “in His image” (Genesis 1:26), He endowed us with the ability to invent, to craft, produce, to trade, and ultimately to create value. Isn’t that what business actually is – creating value and trading it for other value?
In the Old Testament book of Exodus, when Moses was instructed to build the Tabernacle, God chose a man named Bezalel to do some of the work, because of his great skill as a master craftsman. He was a businessman with an incredible reputation.
And God has been setting apart business men and women to do His work ever since. Which means they’re part of His family. So then, if God put business minds inside the church, it makes sense that we should learn from them. Otherwise we are ignoring an entire arm of God’s wisdom for His church.
(2) Because churches lose influence when they ignore good business practices.
Like anything, this can be overemphasized and become out of balance. But when it comes to good business basics, churches are often way behind. And that’s to our shame. When Paul said that “everything” should be done “decently and in order” I’m sure he meant “everything” (1 Corinthians 14:40).
We shouldn’t be satisfied to get beat by every other type of organization when it comes to planning, communication, finances, presentations, leadership development, organizational alignment, or any other aspect. Excellence should always be our aim. Frankly, since we’re competing to capture the attention of this generation with the Gospel, this is an urgent matter. The better we do this, the more we’ll earn the right to be heard.
Now, before I get accused of hypocrisy, I’ll admit that the church where I serve as Lead Pastor has plenty of room to grow in this area. I take full responsibility for the messiness of our organization. But that’s changing, thanks largely to the business leaders and learning happening inside our church.
Here are 2 easy ways to get started:
Books, podcasts, conferences…there is an endless supply of good business coaching and learning available out there. Two of my favorite easy-to-use resources are: Fast Company Magazine and The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast.
Even the smallest of churches has someone on the inside that can help lift the whole ministry in this area. The key is asking for help. Take people to lunch, invite feedback, involve business leaders in key task forces and ministry projects, bring new blood into the circle of advisers, take field trips to members’ businesses to learn, have businesspeople from your church train your staff in some aspect of business, and on and on. Some of my friends in business have told me that just being asked their opinion about a decision or an idea means a lot.
I’m so grateful for those in our church who serve selflessly and faithfully to take our team to a level far beyond what we could reach without them. If you’re a business leader offering your talent to your church, thank you!
What’s your next step? I’d love to know. Please share your comments & questions on this post, and let’s take the lid off the church!