Bloomberg Businessweek arrived in the church’s mail a few weeks ago. I asked how we got the magazine, but Ellen and Dana assumed I had placed the order. Which made me wonder if a church member was hoping to hear business world illustrations in my sermons. The ploy has not worked, but I do flip through the magazine – so who knows. Then, today, a copy of Black Enterprise was in my box… My sermons probably do need more diversity…
Monthly I meet with a group of pastors. We read books, discuss ministry, pray for one another – just what you would imagine. Yesterday the meeting included a guest speaker, who was in charge of the HR department of a large KC company. He brought a candid conversation on hiring and firing. Firing folks in the church is difficult, so he also talked about enabling change and helping people find success. But he emphasized there are times when a transition is the only answer. He told us, “The church is a business and you are its CEO.”
I kind of like the title CEO, but I do not see the church as a business. It is not a business at the bottom line – profit is not our motivator. Plus, most church “employees” are really volunteers. Not to mention, as tithers, church volunteers are also customers. So in the church it is not the CEO paying employees, but employees who pay the CEO!
The speaker’s intensity also revealed the different expectations of business and church. He is expected to demand certain work from his employees. He is expected to makes changes if these demands are not meet. He is even expected to fire people.
Listening, I wondered why the church does not hold this same expectation? A minister or a volunteer in a position of power often remains in place no matter how ineffective. If we believe the mission of the church is more serious than any business goal, why do we allow it flounder? It is partly because of the church’s calling to love our neighbor – a calling we erode down to niceness (it is not nice to ask someone to step down). But it has more to do with vision.
Our speaker quoted Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” Without vision we grow complacent. We toil in different directions. We no longer hold expectations of one another, because we are not exactly sure what to expect.
Of course the church has a vision. It is spelled out in scripture. It needs to be refined for our time and place – made into specifics (the role of the pastor). But I wonder if we take this vision seriously? Do I communicate it? Do you expect it of yourself and others?
What would happen if we took the church’s vision as seriously as we do in business? … The ax would come out, but if we are firing everyone maybe it is really the CEO… I did say the church is not a business, right?