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.