Does Business Leadership Belong in the Church?

"There’s a perception that, as church leaders, we cannot take much from the secular business world and apply it to the church. In fact, many people often object to using business practices in the church." - Ed Stetzer

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T Howard's picture

I'm not sure what Stetzer defines as "business leadership," but his article is really about using business tools in the church. In the churches I've attended, most of them lacked a basic understanding of how to structure and correctly account for staff wages, benefits, taxes, and designated giving. Consequently, most were in violation of IRS regulations. One senior pastor I spoke to insisted he was doing everything right because that is what his other pastor friends did. The best thing a church can do is hire an accountant and attorney that specializes in 501c3 and non-profit organizations. Listen to their counsel and follow their instructions.

As for other business tools, churches with multiple staff or 150+ people would also find helpful other tools like a S.W.O.T. analysis (to help them assess ministry effectiveness), a nationally-normed personality assessment (to help church leaders understand their leadership styles, strengths, and weaknesses), and tools that facilitate church administration and communication.

Bert Perry's picture

is that first of all, too many churches are essentially run like factories to begin with--with "defective material", or "young believers with undesired habits", being sent to the NMR pile instead of going to rework.  It is also worth noting that a lot of businesses have lost sight of what ought to be their goals in favor of juicing the quarterly numbers. Companies I've worked for, for example, do incessant cost-cutting without any serious analysis of "what resources do I really need to achieve my business goal?"

Or we might say that churches ought to be run more like a well-run business, but sadly, too many are being run like businesses run to juice the value of the executives' stock options.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

I'm against "organized" religion! I'm for "disorganized" religion.

I favor:

  • Busted budgets
  • Uncontrolled spending
  • Lack of financial controls
  • Unpaid bills
  • Absence of policies
  • No job descriptions 
  • Meetings without agendas that don't start on time
  • And broken links on websites

Mark_Smith's picture

If business leadership is the things Jim outlines, a budget, job descriptions, paid bills, human resource policies (if your big enough for this), etc... then I like it.

But business leadership can be other things. You can run your outreach by a marketing study. Might be good. Probably bad.

Planning is good. Being a slave to a plan is bad. I knew a pastor who saw that his church was having a particular issue that needed to be addressed from the pulpit. He was asking for advice because his preplanned sermon schedule didn't have an opening for something like 6 months... that is being a slave to your plan.

I suspect the author is talking about the "other" parts of business leadership, like cold, hard bureaucracy, for example. That we can leave to the business geniuses out there.