Separation of Church and Business

Separation of church and business has a familiar constitutional ring. It is almost as if every church writes this phrase into the congregation’s founding documents. Case in point, have you ever known a pastor who seems a little on the uniformed side on how to operationally manage a church and its budget? Some pastors have an amazing connection with God that shows itself from the pulpit but never materializes in the church board room. Why today are the movers and shakers of communities, often business owners and leaders, conspicuously absent from the local church? Yesteryear saw churches formed by those community leaders. It would seem that business is a dirty word in the church today.   Where does a business leader today get his inspiration, a new-age sales guru or a pastor relaying a message from the creator of the universe? Political messages are more prevalent in the pulpit than business ones.

Today’s church is business shy. Biblical times saw the priests and kings (kings were the business leaders) working together. Kings would ask the spiritual leaders for advice and the spiritual leaders would bless the kings going into battle. The church is business shy for one of three reasons.  1. The pastor does not understand business. Not only is the message non-business, the church is operated in a non-business, fledging manner as well. 2. Business is perceived as carnal or worldly. Business pursues profit and profit seems equal to greed, therefore business people must all be greedy. 3. The church leaders are threatened by business leaders in the church. Pastors feel they alone should lead the flock. Allowing business leaders credence only promotes them as leaders which undermines the pastor’s leadership. Phrased differently, pastors are jealous of business leaders and their ability to lead.

Quickly putting these three concerns to rest, the church is an organization. 1. Most are legal entities. Non-profit does not mean poorly run, although many think that you must lose your shirt to have a successful non-profit organization. These legal entities have the same operational responsibilities as a for-profit business. God requests things to be done decently and in order. God is one of excellence and His church should be as well. Even Jesus’ original team had a bookkeeper. (Just make sure you have an honest one and you are paying them enough.) 2. God’s first command is to be fruitful and multiply. He commanded us to be productive. This is obviously more than just multiply the population. He gave the garden to tend and animals to keep, both to multiply. 3. Pastors who are threatened by business leaders are weak leaders. Pastors should embrace these leaders of the community shepherding them even more closely than anyone else. They already have the influence, use it. Allowing these natural born leaders to lead takes leadership responsibilities off the pastor’s plate. Jesus chose twelve leaders. We don’t know all of their backgrounds but none attended seminary. Most were fishermen and one was a tax collector.  The accountant, although not trustworthy in the end, undoubtedly had financial experience. The other eleven would not have put up with someone bad at math. Let the natural born leaders lead, nurture them and let them lead an influence others.

Give these leaders a place to lead by starting a business ministry in your church. A business ministry connects your business leaders with the church. It also mentors the business leaders in outreach. Grow your leaders and you grow the church. Many are called to be business owners and leaders and it is the church’s responsibility to equip the saints. Point of note; take care of the business leaders in your church and you will never have to beg for money again.

blogTim Porter