What is our Business?
We need to run this place like a business. At some point, every pastor will hear this commit at a church council meeting or congregational meeting. It is usually said by someone who is disagreeing on how we are spending money. I always bristle a little when I hear this said at church. I want to ask: "what type of business?" Are we a not-for-profit business? Are we a for-profit business? Who are our stakeholders? Who are our customers? If we are a business, then what is our product? Who owns the business? Do we really want to operate the church as a business?
A few weeks ago I had an epiphany while standing in the aisle of The Party Source, the country's largest beverage store. Last year while visiting Germany, I was served a dornfelder red wine at a local restaurant. Dornfelder is a dark, full-bodied red wine of German origin. Returning home, I discovered that dornfelder is not readily available in the states.
While at The Party Source, I casually mentioned my fondness for dornfelder to the young man named Michael who was stocking wine on shelves. He was unfamiliar with dornfelder but immediately asked for my name, email, and phone number. Within a few days, I received an email letting me know that he had located three brands of dornfelder wine. He invited me to store for a free tasting of each wine. After choosing my favorite, he ordered me a few bottles and made dornfelder part of their German wine selection.
Why would he go to all that trouble for me? The Party Source was an employee-owned business. In fact, it is the only employee-owned beverage store in America. It is also the largest beverage store in America. He went to all that trouble because he was a stakeholder. He was an owner. He understood that as the company prospers, he will thrive.
That's my epiphany. If we want to run this place like a business, we best view it as an employee-owned business. We are stakeholders in the ongoing success of our church. We are all equally invested in growing the business (the church). Our spiritual health, our relationship with God, our joy in Christ is all intertwined with the success of our church. Michael is our role model for Christian discipleship. We are stakeholders in the Kingdom of God. We grow as disciples by doing our part of building the Kingdom. We grow the Kingdom through our extravagant welcome of others, our willingness to meet others where they are on life's journey. Michael did not try to sell me his favorite wine. We went out of his way to find my favorite wine. He has followed up with me several times over the past few weeks inviting me back to the store to sample wines that he thought I would enjoy. That's how you grow a business. Did I mention The Party Source is the largest beverage store in America?