I had a conversation recently with a long time evangelist and church leader. He was bemoaning the state of leadership in the church and at one point said, with great passion, “Pastors are not CEOs; they’re shepherds!” He is right. The pastor is not the Chief Executive Officer of a church. That isn’t the calling. (Though in many churches it’s the cultural construct.) Pastors are called to lead, to care, to nurture, to protect, to feed.
Right about this time, though, the guy’s ideas jumped the rails. He went on to call out several pastors of mega churches (not present at the time) for “bringing all this business into the church.” He decried business principles for ruining the church and undermining its mission and message.
It is true that the church is not a business. It is not a profit earning entity, at least it shouldn’t be. Church is about people and purpose not numbers of any kind. And top or bottom line numbers cannot accurately measure that purpose or the success of the mission. But to define the usefulness of business principles so narrowly as to say they ruin the church” is false (and also discouraging to business people in the church, but that is a separate issue).
Most effective business principles aren’t directly about profit; they’re about organizational health and effectiveness. And, while the church is not a business, it is an organization.
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