Monday, October 12, 2009

What is our Business Model?

Every year Willow Creek ministries, which operates out of the Chicago, IL area, sponsors something called, "The Leadership Conference". This is an incredible 3 day event that happens in Mid-August each year and is simulcast all over the country (and other parts of the world as well). The Leadership Conference is an amazing time of challenging inspiration. Leaders share their visions, their successes, and their failures, so that church and community leaders might learn. Church leaders have been attending this impressive event every Summer for many years.

A few years ago, a large contingency of Spiritual leaders decided to no longer attend the Willow Creek event because they were offended by the non-christian business leaders that had been asked to speak. Apparently they didn't see the value in learning from the unsaved. We can be so arrogant!

Jennifer has been on staff at a church for a year and a half. She was hired to assist the part-time music pastor and as part of her duties she created the screen media for each of the Sunday services. She created the files which projected the words of the worship tunes up on the screens as well as the pastor's notes, and she chose the creative backgrounds as well. She's very good at what she does and her talent and intuition is appreciated by staff and parishioners alike. She is, in fact, so good at what she does, that she has been asked to create the screen media for all services held at the church in the past year and a half - Christmas Eve, Woman's Ministry events, Men's breakfasts, etc...

Six months ago a new Senior Pastor was hired and he immediately added services and responsibilities to Jennifer's plate. Jennifer's hours doubled, but her pay remained the same. She was becoming exhausted and overwhelmed. In the "real world", large successful companies would never get away with making these kinds of demands on their employees, but this is church. Sometimes it seems that we translate "heart for ministry" to "slave labor".

Last week Jennifer went in to talk with her boss. She brought with her a list of ideas - ways they could simplify and streamline, and ways to be a bit more efficient. Her boss listened and wrote down all her ideas and seemed to be sympathetic to Jennifer's exhaustive plight.

After listening and making notes, he looked at Jennifer and said, "The pastor has decided to move in a different direction and you are being fired."

Jennifer loves her job and was excited about the new pastor and the new direction he will be taking the church. She was really looking forward to being a small part of this new adventure. This is not the way you treat faithful, honest, gifted employees.

"The world" doesn't treat employees this way and it is no wonder that the Willow Creek team invites un-churched world business leaders to teach the church. But shouldn't it be the other way around? The church should be setting the standard and the business model for the world. After all, Jesus himself is our teacher and role model.

It is often said that if churches were run like businesses they would be so much more successful. Get off the pew people. We need to stop running our good people ragged, then discarding them when we decide to go in a new direction. Anyone who is willing to work twice the hours she's been contracted to work for the good of the ministry, is someone who is willing to move and grow in a new direction.

Jennifer has the talent, the motivation, the drive, AND the heart for service and ministry. This is another example of a good person being used, worn out, then thrown away and unnecessarily wounded. Get off the pew Church! We should be setting the standard--the business model. Get off the pew.

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