For some, the worlds of business and church couldn’t be more different. Businesses operate on one set of rules, and churches another. I know this, because often when I point to the connections between the two, someone pushes back on the concept — even church leaders who used to be in the business world.
As part of the leadership team at Church Community Builder, I have my feet firmly planted in both worlds. I wear the hat of a businessman, making decisions, looking at trends, and providing leadership to my team. On the other hand, because our business is focused on helping churches make a lasting impact, I am always thinking of how to do ministry better and interacting with church leaders. I believe there are some important lessons that churches can learn from the business community. Here are just three of those.
- Data and the Holy Spirit Can Coexist. Both businesses and ministries have to make important decisions. Is the time right to launch a new campus? What ministries need improvement so people aren’t slipping through the cracks? No church leader or entrepreneur I’ve met makes a bad decision on purpose. We do what we think is right, but sometimes our instincts are not enough. When you use a combination of data, intuition, and the Spirit, your decisions have a much higher success rate. But oftentimes churches don’t even have access to the data needed to inform decisions in the first place. What are you measuring, and how is it helping you validate the strategies you are considering?
- Relationship Precedes Commitment. No one likes being sold! Almost everyone I know appreciates salespeople who take the time to get to know them and understand their needs before recommending a product or service. Yet there are churches operating like pushy salespeople. We can be so excited to see a new person walk through the door that we overwhelm them with requests to connect and commit. Focusing on relationship first, before pushing people toward the new members class or open volunteer positions list helps a visitor know that the value they add to your community is their presence. Of course we want them to get involved, but we have to resist the urge to start there.
- Uniqueness Trumps Conformity. None of us is proud of it, but we have all been guilty of comparing ourselves to others from time to time. That human nature carries over into businesses and churches too. As a leader, it is easy to see the growth or success of a competing business or another church in your community and wonder, “How can we be more like them?” While we should learn from each other, often this is a dangerous pitfall that can make you lose sight of your God-given uniqueness. Your community doesn’t need another church just like the one down the road. What is your unique calling? Can someone read your mission statement and get a clear picture of what makes you different? How often do you do a full review of each ministry area and how well they’re focused on helping the church as a whole close the gap between today’s reality and the vision God gave you?
Business and church may seem worlds apart, but all truth is God’s truth no matter the setting. If we want our ministries to be the absolute best they can be, it’s important that we are open to learning from more than just the world we are comfortable in.