…BUT “ministry” is different!

Whenever a person or organization talks about using a business model, for example, within the context of a “ministry” organization, someone gets their undies all bunched up in knots. I’ve seen it time and again.

Unfortunately, the conversation that ensues between these opposing viewpoints is too often set out to “win” rather than to find common ground of understanding. Winning is more immediately gratifying to one’s ego.

One will say that a good business model can and should be used and/or adapted for use in a ministry context because it’s a good model and it makes sense.

The other will argue that good business models don’t take into consideration the sometimes unpredictable nature of the Holy Spirit.

The first will remind the second that “of course we need to leave room for the Holy Spirit to guide us” but that in the meantime, the business model gives us a sound path to follow.

The second will retort that using a business model is equal to doing ministry in your own power — that in order for God to get the credit for it, it has to look illogical and impossible — flying in the face of “human” thinking.

You’ve heard this argument, haven’t you? Maybe even participated? I have. On both sides at different times, even.

As I was thinking about this once again, a little light went on. We somehow have let tasks be “ministry” or “work” or “leisure” as if the task determined the purpose and focus of what we do. Is this a Biblical worldview?  Doesn’t Scripture tell us that every aspect of our living has a single purpose: to bring glory to God through worship? If “sacred” and “secular” is determined by WHO does something rather than what they do, what difference does that make in our thinking? 

I’ve so not got this all straightened out into perfect rows of logic and understanding. Just thinking aloud in a potentially very public space. Like talking in a busy public space where anyone could hear you, but hardly anyone is listening. It feels pretty safe. 🙂

9 thoughts on “…BUT “ministry” is different!

  1. John Creech says:

    I believe these two positions can be reconciled by a clear understanding of our calling. There are two aspects to our calling; primary and secondary calling. Primarily we are called as followers of Jesus Christ and secondarily, in considering who God is as sovereign. That is, we should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him.” It’s this secondary calling that allows us to pursue secular careers and still live up to the expectations of that calling.

    These two callings are dynamically related in that the primary calling must always precede the secondary calling in order and importance. And, the primary calling always leads to the secondary calling. Many people seek significance in their lives through their jobs, but often find themselves at a dead-end and without purpose. They want their work to be meaningful, but, “Neither work nor career can be fully satisfying without a deeper sense of calling.

    However, calling itself can be empty and indistinguishable from work, unless there is Someone who calls.” Even believers who are engaged in full-time Christian service, can fall far short of the worshipful experience that answering God’s call can bring. Oswald Chambers writes” Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him…The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him.”

    Os Guinness asks: “Do we enjoy our work, love our work, virtually worship our work so that our devotion to Jesus is off-center? Do we put our emphasis on service, or usefulness, or being productive in working for God – at His expense? Do we strive to prove our own significance? Do we want to make a difference in the world?” The call of God blocks out these human tendencies, because the call is to Someone, not something.

  2. Ken Mullins says:

    Prior to 1905 scientists were split into two camps concerning light. The first camp said light was a wave and they had their studies showing that light did behave as a wave. The second camp said light was a particle and they had their studies showing that light did behave as a particle. Then Albert Einstein showed that light was both a wave and a particle. Likewise, we as believers, have the “hypostatic union”. That is Jesus is “Fully God” and “Fully man” in one person.

    Allow me to suggest that “ministry” is similar to light and the hypostatic union—in that it is both a work of God and a work of man–therefore those of us involved in ministry must use sound proven business practices while allowing for the Holy Spirit to work.

    On a personal level, I use sound business practices until the Holy Spirit clearly leads me in a different direction.

    • Ruth Hubbard says:

      As one who understands the deeper things of God and life through metaphor, this is really helpful for my thinking. Thanks, Ken.

      I use sound business practices when they are applicable just as I use design principles (relative to color and balance) when I create something graphic and follow grammar rules when I communicate in print.

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