Church or Business: Either/or, or both/and?

by kensneed2 on April 3, 2011

On several occasions I’ve heard people observe that, “It’s a church. It shouldn’t be run like a business!”

I think I disagree with that observation. 

I think I agree with that observation.

I disagree with that statement because the church is in a world of business.   There is a need to be business-like because of the finances involved. When churches don’t follow basic business principles regarding budget, credit, salaries and disclosure practices, there are problems that result.  Suspicions rise when protocol isn’t followed.  When members don’t have a say in how the money is spent they become resentful.  Power struggles result when one, or a special few, are in control of finances and church policies.

Talk about fertile ground for conflicts!  The reason businesses that succeed run by the practices they have is because they’d fail if they didn’t have structure to guide them.  There would be chaos!  Are you familiar with a church that has split or struggled for a long time with a conflict?  I know of a church that split because one of the ministers didn’t follow the established protocol.  The anger of those who were aware of the violations lit a struggle that resulted in distrust between long-time friends and set two factions against each other.  Following practical practices often seen in businesses probably would have avoided the problems entirely.

On the other hand, I agree that the church is to be different from the world.  Business is frequently run in a cut-throat manner that disregards the feelings and needs of it’s employees.  When church staff, at all levels, have problems to cope with, it is in Christ’s line of thinking when they are offered grace and support. For example, illness that takes a staff person out of work, or when there is illness for a close family member of  staff personnel, there is a need for support in reasonable ways to assist them in getting through the problem they are dealing with.

When there are questions or differences about a policy, many businesses allow no room for thought outside of the policies that have been established.  A boss or supervisor who faces honest questions may summarily dismiss the one questioning, even though it is done in good faith.  Questioning is a means of correcting problems before they surface, or improving the quality of product or service.  In a church they should be invited.  Honest answers, healthy debate in line with Christ’s attitude and being stretched to broaden vision helps a church move forward.  Petty bickering is defused when brought to light and respectfully confronted.

Think about these questions when looking for solutions for being unique when doing the church’s business:

  • When challenged by another’s questions and/or accusations regarding church policy, whether it’s personal or directed at the church in general, am I threatened by the questions or am I confident in Jesus that the right thing is being done?
  • Whether I like or dislike the person or group I disagree with, can I treat them with respect and dignity, regardless of their behavior?
  • Is my goal to be “right” or to do what God would determine is the right thing to do?
  • If I’m challenged by the disagreement, can I prayerfully consider whether or not there might be some value in the other person’s/group’s perspective?  There is a good chance I might learn something from them and negotiate a better way of implementing that which brought about the difference in the first place.
  • Can I work with the other(s) when there is no clear right or wrong, and find a way to honor God while agreeing that we disagree?

There are people with whom is isn’t possible to arrive at a workable solution.  Keeping Christ at the forefront of our thoughts as we try to work toward a fix for the differences will honor Him and preserve a good image for the community.

Are you ready to be part of a business that demonstrates love and grace to staff and congregation?  Let’s run businesses in the world without being squeezed into the world’s mold!

Need help to avoid conflicts in your church?  Give me a call or send me an e-mail for a free consultation: 225-773-8883, or e-mail at www.ChurchHarmonyNow.com.

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