Should the Church Take Lessons from Corporate America?

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The title subject is one that I’ve pondered for many years, but never really studied beyond the surface. But a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of listening to Brien’s Place, a daily radio show hosted by musician Brien Andrews. (Major plug for my buddy who is doing great things in an excellent way. He definitely gets my personal stamp of excellence! And as a bonus, music lovers will LOVE the show’s background music and BGVs!).

From Pastor to CEO

On the show, Brien mentioned how the use of corporate titles such as CEO, CFO, COO, CAO, and CMO is becoming increasingly common in today’s churches; and that, overall we are adapting more of Corporate America’s policies.

In the many leadership workshops I’ve taught over the years, I’ve said that church leaders could learn a lot from Corporate America. Certainly, we can learn more about structure and order, communication, punctuality, networking, excellence, productivity, efficiency, attention to detail, teamwork, responsibility, conflict resolution, marketing, budgeting and the value of having a good reputation. I’ve even heard some suggest that the church needs to learn the principles of good customer service, considering its members as “customers.” At my own church last summer, I taught a session on branding, and frequently teach leaders at other churches on many of the subjects I mentioned above.

But when I heard Brien say that we are “adapting more [of] Corporate America’s policies,” I felt the unspoken implications resonate in my spirit, and I felt the wheels of my mind begin to turn.  So about a week ago, I asked a few friends what they thought about this subject, and while many of them raised really good points, two in particular addressed the points I had considered myself. Thanks to Vanessa Miller, Bennett Yancey, Philip Brown, Robert Jones, and William Spruill for your input.

Corporate America Needs to Take Lessons from the Bible

In her book, Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, Laurie Beth Jones uses the ministry of Jesus Christ as the model for a perfect CEO as she shares leadership techniques and lessons inspired by Him. One of the things I learned from reading Jesus, CEO is that we really can get all the tools and lessons we need to be good leaders from the Word of God.

The Bible is full of strong examples of leaders, Jesus being the best example, and each one’s story provides lessons for leaders, lists of what to do, what not to do, and demonstrates the characteristics of excellent leaders. We can learn about excellence and having a good name from Daniel; the importance of detailed planning, networking, and resource planning from Nehemiah; building under duress and overcoming obstacles from Ezra; conflict resolution from Paul; attention to detail from Noah (or Solomon); succession planning from Jesus; budgeting from Solomon, and so much more from those powerful Biblical leaders, and the many others I didn’t name. I would go as far as to say that there is NOTHING a Christian leader needs to learn that s/he cannot learn from studying Biblical principles and Biblical leaders. I cannot think of any concepts, principles or values in Corporate America that are not covered to some degree in the Bible.

So if we desire to pattern ourselves after the strongest Biblical leaders, in an effort to be more like Christ, what reason do we have to seek out secular sources to achieve success as ministry leaders?

Conflicting Goals

Another HUGE reason I can’t support churches taking lessons from Corporate America is that we have some insurmountable differences in our values, missions, goals, and overall purpose. As one friend put it, “Many principles that dominate Corporate America conflict with Christian values.” Another friend pointed out, “the corporate world is cut-throat,” and I have to agree with her.

The overall corporate focus is on producing revenue. Furthermore, the “moral decay facing companies today,” including its self-serving values, make it a fairly dangerous model for churches to follow.

The Church’s overall mission is to declare the gospel of Jesus Christ to all mankind, compel those who are lost, edify its members, and minister the love of Christ to all so that God is glorified. When fulfilled, our mission and purpose, as a friend said, will profit the entire body of Christ. On the other hand, in Corporate America, only the corporation itself benefits.

Taking lessons from an entity with such a conflicting mission puts the Church in a position to receive lessons possibly contaminated by greed, self-centeredness, malice, lies, ruthlessness and immorality. I can easily see us slowly trending into an institution that has unknowingly disregarded its purpose for the pursuit of worldly success and material things.

As Brien said in his radio show, the church simply “can’t forget what your real purpose and your real mission is, and that’s about souls. It’s about people. ‘People’ is the church’s ‘product.'”

So… what’s my final answer? No, churches should not take lessons from Corporate America. Churches should position ourselves to be the organism Christ built us to be so that Corporate America can take lessons from us. We are made to be the head, not the tail; the leaders, not the followers.

So what do you think? Should the church take lessons from Corporate America? Okay, I can’t read your mind, silly! Use the comment box below to tell me what you think. 🙂

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5 Ways to Tell if You’re a Pastoral Bug-a-Boo

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Every church has one. Or two or twelve… Nobody ever wants to call her out because you don’t want to offend anybody, and plus, she’s just so sweet. She doesn’t mean any harm. She just lovvvves her pastor, and there’s nothing wrong with that, right?

Well, being a pastoral bug-a-boo is more than just annoying, it can be detrimental to his productivity, effectiveness, mental health, spiritual health and physical health, and even to his marriage. As I often tell clients and pastor-friends: a pastor has a 5-point job description: to pray, preach, teach, visit and counsel.  Good pastors have a lot on their plates. They are responsible for covering you and your family in prayer, and they spend hours and hours each week in prayerful and studious preparation for Bible Study and their weekly sermons. Plus, they have to strategize and plan, visit the sick and incarcerated, and counsel those in need, including the energy-sapping knuckleheads. The last thing they need is someone bugging them unnecessarily.

In the bug-a-boo’s defense, I will say that they probably don’t realize they’re being bug-a-boos. I mean, nobody sets out wanting to be a bug-a-boo. Most people, if accused, won’t even admit to it. So, allow me to help you out. If you fall into any of these 5 categories, there’s a strong chance you’re the bug-a-boo who never knew.

1. The One Who Never Calls the Church Secretary or the First Lady
Well since the name of this blog is Order in the Church, I can’t ignore the #1 issue among bug-a-boos of the world: going to the pastor for everything. That’s out of order. If you need anything outside of the 5-point pastoral job description – like building access, information about a trip, details about the choir robes, expense approvals, or have a question about the clergy attire for the upcoming communion service – chances are, there’s someone else who can answer your question. The pastor should not be paying bills, changing light bulbs, providing details for an upcoming conference or calling Deacon Mack to ask him to let you into the Carrie Jenkins Memorial Annex for your Brotherhood Meeting. Learn to contact the right people to handle whatever it is you need. It relieves some of the pressure off your pastor and it’s one less thing he’ll have to do today. If you won’t contact the appropriate person because of some sort of personal conflict, you have some growing up to do. If you won’t contact the appropriate person because you just feel more comfortable going to the pastor… you’re rebellious.

And I gotta tell you, not only do you bug the pastor, but you might be getting on the first lady’s nerves too. And I’m 100% confident that you’re also bugging the administrator and disrupting the flow of order in the church. Contrary to popular opinion, protocol is of God.

2. The One Who Thinks the Pastor is Her Best Friend
I can’t speak for your pastor, but I just don’t think the average pastor is really interested in hearing the details of your day, whether or not the guy from the check-out line called you back, how your boss called you in the office today, Macy’s is having a sale or your ex-husband is being a jerk… again.  He may smile and nod, but that’s just a courtesy. He’s not your friend. He’s also not your husband, cheerleader, prayer partner, doctor, loan officer or lawyer. Stop calling him with all your day-to-day issues. Consider this: you’re just one person. You have no idea who (or how many) called him before you did, nor do you know how many times his phone will ring after you hang up. Don’t add to it. Get a friend.

3. The One Who Goes to the Pastor Every Time Someone Offends Him
Similac or Steak? I hate to break it to you, but if you can’t pull a simple Matthew 18 (v15-17) when somebody ticks you off, you really have some growing to do. Not only are you a bug-a-boo, but you’re also out of order.

4. The One Who Cooks Weird Stuff for the Pastor
It’s not that pastors don’t appreciate their members bringing them their favorite dishes, but I have to tell you: if your pastor has never specifically told you how much he enjoyed your Okra Spam Jalepeno Ritz Cracker Casserole AND asked you to make one for him, chances are he could do without it. It’s possible he doesn’t even like it. If he makes comments like, “ohh, that cracker thing. Thank you so much. I hope I can fit it in the freezer. I still have leftovers from the last one you made” chances are, it’s going to waste and he doesn’t know how to tell you. Don’t put him in the uncomfortable position of having to pretend he loves it or tell you he doesn’t. Believe it or not, that can cause an undue burden. If you want to bless him, give him a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant. (And be sure to “bless” his helpmeet, too. Chances are, he wouldn’t be half as wonderful as he is if it weren’t for her). <— I threw that in for free

5. The One Who Bought and Framed His Own Entitlement Certificate
Look, your pastor needs his space. If you don’t think he does, you must not have ever needed a rhema word. If his office door is closed, even if you have known him since kindergarten, respect the boundaries. His towels have his initials on them for a reason. I know you used to babysit him when he was a kid, but now, he’s a pastor – YOUR pastor. I get that he’s your first cousin on your father’s side, or he married your sister, but he’s your pastor now. You don’t get to park in his designated space or drink his special tea or tell the receptionist “well, interrupt him, please. It’s ME!” after she told you he’s unavailable. You don’t get to invite yourself everywhere he’s invited. You don’t get to hang around when he’s about to begin a private meeting. You don’t get to ignore policies or skip the chain of command when you don’t like something. Respect the boundaries, respect his space, respect his office hours, respect protocol… respect ORDER.

Okay, so I know YOU’RE not a bug-a-boo, right? RIGHT???? If not, I bet you knew one once upon a time…

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