There is no doubt that the 21st century church is taking many cues from its business counterparts. It is a growing influence that has developed over decades. The 1960s saw the dawn of the Church Growth movement bringing the use of research to church planning. The megachurch movement then brought greater resources, larger staffs, and intricate marketing campaigns among many other business-esque elements. In time, many churches began hiring Administrative and Executive Pastors in place of Associate Pastors. Today, business experience is nearly as valuable as a seminary degree within church staffing.
All of this change has led some to resist any notion of business principles within church ministry. It is not uncommon to hear a pastor argue that the church is not and should not be run like a business. I just can’t help but disagree. Given the words that Jesus spoke while on earth, there a few ways I’m convinced He does want our churches to be run more like good businesses:
- Businesses stay focused on reaching new markets.
“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” (Luke 4:43)
Jesus refused to stay in Capernaum because he was focused on reaching other people. Good businesses also seek ways to reach groups of people with whom they have not yet connected.
What opportunities does your church have to connect with new markets?
- Businesses hold employees accountable.
“A servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished.” (Luke 12:47)
Too often, churches hesitate to fire employees out of a desire to practice grace. Our mission in the world is way too important to waste time and money on a problematic team member. Sometimes the best way to show people grace is to carefully but honestly help them take a step beyond your organization.
How many lives will go unchanged because you have the wrong person on your team?
- Businesses make plans before they commit to projects.
“For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” (Luke 14:28)
In a good business, your idea doesn’t get approval until you can show how it will work, why it will work, and how much it will cost. Too often, churches approve ideas without fully considering the ramifications.
To what level of detail do your leaders plan ahead before they begin new projects?
- Businesses stop things that aren’t yielding results.
“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away…” (John 15:2)
Healthy businesses take intentional steps to eliminate activities that do not contribute to a clear bottom line. Many churches waste resources keeping nonperforming ministry programs on life support.
Which of your ministry programs is not bearing real fruit?
- Businesses are responsible for demonstrating a return to their investors.
“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” (Luke 12:48)
Unfortunately, many churches teach stewardship better than they practice it. Good businesses understand that their money was provided by investors who expect to see something come of it. Church givers also want to see that their gifts are producing fruit. There are a lot of places they could be sowing their seed to further the Kingdom.
How would you feel if your church members received a quarterly report showing how you spent their money and the results it produced?
So would Jesus want churches to operate more like businesses? Certainly not in every way. But I have a feeling that many church leaders could better live out the teachings of Jesus by becoming students of business operations.
What do you think? Should churches really be run more like businesses? Share your own thoughts in a comment below…