Between the Church & the Business World

kinnon —  September 10, 2007 — 1 Comment

If you’ve been a long-time reader of this blog then you know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about church leadership. I’ve struggled with pastors who buy into Jim Collins language (and I’m a Collins fan) and want to get the right people on the boss/wrong people off the bus while they pursue their latest BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals, if I remember correctly.)

I’ve said very strongly and numerous times that the church is not a business. But are there (or should I say, there are) business ideas, strategies and leadership gifts that can/should be considered in the context of missional church? My good friend, Ed Brenegar thinks so. From his post, The Intellectual Gulf.

There is an intellectual gulf that exists between the church and the business world. It is deep and wide, and has served to ghettoize the church and marginalize the business world’s contribution to God’s mission in the world. Complaints that churches are too consumerist or too business-like is not an argument against the church applying business ideas, but about the poor way that business ideas are applied. That is a leadership character issue along with the intellectual one.

The same could be said of businesses that place profit over everything else. They have narrowed down the essentials to financial numbers. As a result, you get Enron at the most extreme. The problem, like in the church, is an intellectual one. It is not seeing the nature of the organization in large enough terms to understand the context in which it functions.

The issue isn’t that business ideas are some how better than church ideas, they are not. The issue is the nature of ideas and their appropriate application. This is a problem for both churches and businesses. Another reason why the actual gulf doesn’t have to exist.

This problem in the church is an intellectual one at its core. Our conceptualization of the church, for the most part, predates the emergence of the modern business. There have always been small business owners, and a wealthy class that were church goers. Many of these people served on church boards, and brought their business expertise for organization and financial management to the church. The problem is not with business people serving as church officers. It is their ideas of what it takes to operate a successful business, which often are inappropriate or simply mistaken.

Please read the rest @ Ed’s blog and comment there (here, too, if you’d like.) As well, in light of this conversation, Brother Maynard’s post from June 26th, Church Structure & Leadership Smackdown: The Academy vs The Business Model is also worth a read – including the 32 comments.

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

One response to Between the Church & the Business World

  1. There is one more thing to say that is implied in my post.
    Ideas don’t apply themselves. They are applied by human beings. So, the problem with the application of business principles in the church isn’t the ideas themselves but the people who are applying them. The point I want to drive home is that the application of ideas requires real spiritual and intellectual discernment. Spiritual discernment demands us to be humble before God admitting that we are mostly like to screw up when we try things beyond our experience level. Of course, trying and failing is how we learning. Failing and quitting is the worst. Intellectual discernment requires us to be learners, not experts. This is why I see this issue as much a moral one as it is an intellectual one.


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