5. Why Cant We Run a Business like the Church?
Jesus Christ never died for a business.
Jesus Christ did die for the businessman.
For the past twenty years or so the thinking on leaders and leadership has been pretty much one way—from business to the church.
Books like The Leadership Challenge, Built to Last, From Good to Great and many more have impacted the church greatly, and with much benefit. Businesses deal with the same issues in people as the church does: motivation, communication, organization, vision, financial management, change, ethical decisions, how to control selfishness and self-interest (the flesh), and many other concerns. Businesses and the church have a great deal in common. So why not run a business like the church?
Usually this question is asked from the opposite perspective. Frustrated businessmen who see the church as unfocused, unchangeable, slow, blind to opportunity, sloppy in financial management, and who knows what else want to make the church more efficient, more like businesses. And they certainly have a case. Of course, if we look at CitiBank, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, AIG, Chrysler, and General Motors we might be inclined to ask what’s so great about businesses that the church should want to be like that.
This is especially true when we look at the CEO model of church leadership. This model is certainly more efficient than a shepherd-pastor model, but it’s not found in Scripture.
So I go to my question: why can’t we run a business like the church? Why not look at what the Bible has to say about leaders and leadership and bring its truths to bear on business? The Bible has a great deal to say about how to lead people effectively, about the role of concern for followers (love), about the place of truth in leadership (integrity), about bringing order out of chaos (I Timothy, Titus), about leaders as models (I Timothy, Titus, I Cor. 11:1), about leadership character (I Timothy, Titus), about generational and gender relationships (I Timothy, Titus), and many more factors, all of which would benefit business greatly.
And that’s what I want to accomplish in our study of Titus as I turn to the question, What can a businessman learn about leading from Paul’s leadership memo to his trouble shooter, Titus? What can a business leader from a study of elders in Titus? I suggest quite a bit and I want to help us discover this from our time in these three chapters.
Now I must acknowledge that my question Why can’t we run a business like the church? is a tongue-in-cheek question, a take off on the often asked question Why can’t run the church like a business? To me, asking either of these questions is like asking why not run a submarine like an airplane? After all, both are means of transportation, we use both in fighting wars, both have engines and propellers, both have a captain and a crew, both use radios to communicate, both are dependent on radar. So let’s run a submarine the way we run an airplane—and it will end up down at the bottom of the sea. Why? Because the differences between a submarine and an airplane are far greater than the similarities. Air and water are related, but very different elements, and to try to run both the same ways despite some commonalities is disastrous.
And the differences between the church and a business are just as great as the differences between a submarine and an airplane. You can’t run a church like a business because you can’t manage sheep like you can a project. It just can’t be done. You cannot measure their effectiveness the same way. Some of the inefficiencies of the church are built into the very core of its purpose—to transform people. People are messy. And you can’t fire a sheep like you can an employee, not even the messiest of the lot. Churches and businesses have a great deal in common, but just like submarines and airplanes, their differences far outweigh their similarities.
Yet business can learn from the church just as the church has learned from business. And that’s what I want us to see as we look as leaders and leadership from Titus 1 over the next several sessions.
As you work your way through this material ask yourself the question, What can I as a businessman learn about leaders and leadership from what Paul says to Titus in these few chapters? You may be surprised much what Paul is saying can help you be a better leader in your company.
So we start with this question.
What exactly is it that leaders do?
In his short leadership memo to his young trouble shooter, Titus, Paul tells us that leaders do two things:
Leaders do orderly things through exemplary lives.
Paul tells Titus that he is to “set in order what remains (Titus 1:5).”
Time out question: What do you think Paul meant when he told Titus to “set in order what remains?”
When Paul and Titus traveled across the island of Crete together Paul saw many things that needed to be set in order. A reading of Titus shows that there either was chaos or that chaos was inevitable if order weren’t brought to bear on the situation. So Paul assigned Titus to follow through on the things needed to bring order to this difficult situation. From this we see the first of the two things leaders do.
1. Leaders do orderly things by transforming chaos into order.
Some of the issues Paul wanted Titus to set in order included:
- focusing the church on truth
- building healthy relationships among the generations and the genders
- living in ways that expressed true character (godliness)
- doing good deeds
- unifying the church
From this it’s clear that there were severe lacks in the church. Things like
- false teaching
- unhealthy leadership
- ungodly living
These things guarantee chaos, and Titus’ job was to set the churches in order.
Time out questions:As you look at this as a businessman, what parallels do you see between the causes of chaos—or disorder—in the church and the causes of chaos—or disorder—in business? What kind of leadership do you think it takes to bring order out of disorder in the business setting? .
Time out question: What is the first thing Paul wants done to set in order the things that remained to be done?
Answer: Appoint elders
The first thing Paul wants Titus to do is appoint elders.
The church in Crete has significant needs and lacks order, and the first thing in Paul’s mind to resolve this situation is elders—leaders.
Without leadership disorder prevails.
Leaders and Leadership: From Chaos to Order
Without leaders and leadership chaos is certain.
Yet there are many who wrestle with the issue of leadership because in their minds it means dominance and control. They feel weak, inferior, unable to entrust themselves to others because they fear they cannot protect themselves and be safe. Perhaps many of these people have been the victims of power leadership, a leadership that lorded its authority over them rather than lifting them up to new levels of life and freedom. Such people need to see leaders and leadership in a new light, in the light of Jesus’ teaching that leaders are servant-slaves ready to sacrifice themselves for their followers even as He was. That’s the kind of leaders Paul calls for Titus to appoint as we shall see when we consider the concept of elders and their qualifications.
Still others are rebellious and don’t want to follow anyone else or be held accountable. They are independent, self-willed (even when they cover it with God-words), and too weak to be led. To say they are weak may surprise you since we tend to think of this kind of person as strong. But such people often don’t have the character strength to subject themselves voluntarily to leaders, especially if their leaders are their peers and more especially if their leaders are younger than they are. Such people are totally out of step with the New Testament because the only kind of person recognized as righteous in the New Testament is the person who voluntarily subjects himself to all others in the body through the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:22).
There are others who seek leadership, not because they want to serve, but because they are competitive and controlling and looking for a way to establish their own dominance while hiding behind some kind of spiritual cloak. But as soon as they get in leadership they begin to bully the sheep and overpower them rather than care for them and mature them in paths of righteousness and service.
None of these leaders is qualified to lead in the church—or in business. Each of these leaders will mean failure for the church or business that gives them positions of authority. Such leaders—if we can call them leaders—will never bring God’s kind of order out of the chaos that naturally occurs when human beings come together in a group. Without qualified and healthy leaders disorder will reign supreme. That’s why we will pay special attention to the qualifications for leadership in the sessions to come.
By putting the appointment of elders first in his leadership memo Paul establishes the reality that leadership is the #1 issue when it comes to establishing the kind of order the church (or business) needs in order to flourish.
Order never comes of itself. Left alone everything atrophies in accordance with the law of entropy. Everything disintegrates into disorder unless there is a greater force at work to bring and hold the parts together. Unless the right hands take over—the right kind of hands—chaos will always overwhelm order.
Five Core Elements in Leadership
There are at least five things Paul says the right hands must do if order is to come out of disorder:
The over-all responsibility of leaders in bringing order out of disorder may be summarized as saying Leaders fix broken windows.Creation
In other words, leaders create an environment of health in which disorder is rejected as destructive to the well-being of the people and the institution they lead; broken windows aren’t acceptable.
Three things mark this environment:
Leaders bring about order by creating an environment in which followers choose not to break windows but choose to clean up messes so they assume responsibility to pursue healthy living practices.
Leaders bring about order by creating an environment in which followers hold each other mutually accountable for their actions as they encourage each other to learn and to grow..
Leaders bring about order by creating an environment in which followers grow together in a heart for integrity in actions and relationship.
Random Responses to the Question: “Why Can’t We Run a Business like the Church?”
We won’t make any money!
I do business seven days a week; I go to church one day a week.
We are more serious, passionate, committed about business.
How do we run the church?
Maybe 50% of churches get it right.
Pray about business all the time! But who does that?
Business is fear driven—managers keep everybody afraid so they will be productive.
Business focuses on the needs of customers (Does this imply that churches don’t? probably). Many businessmen would say pastors have no ides what they face on a daily basis. And they’re probably right.
In business we’re working for God.
When both business and the church are successful, they are a reflection of what is right. To be successful both have to focus on why, what, and how they serve. This will show up in numbers for both. And success for both is often the reflection of one man. Yes, but he must be a man among men who builds a team and releases others to play a vital role in light of their gift and calling.
Most business leaders are driven by the fear that they will lose their position by putting someone better than they are in leadership positions on their team. So they make fear-driven decisions to go with their power-driven and greed-driven decisions. While most ministry leaders don’t make greed-driven decisions, they do make fear and power-driven decisions.
Business and the church have different purposes: to make money vs. to make disciples.
Is business all about making money? Are there no higher purposes for business? And are churches really about making disciples? What does that look like in the church? Isn’t that a major problem? The church is about keeping everybody happy rather than calling everybody to discipleship.
We use business to make disciples.
Business is the bridge from the world to the church; businessmen are ministers to the world on behalf of the church and the Gospel. The two are not in conflict or opposites; they work together—they are inter-woven. Businessmen go out from the church into the world and bring those from the world into the church. The aim of the church is to equip businessmen to minister in the world, and the church needs to learn how to do this.
The church lacks the same kind of control that business has over people because it doesn’t determine their financial well-being.
The church is a voluntary organization, and you can’t fire volunteers. Or can you?
The product the church and business is different: eternity vs. wood, hay, and stubble. Is that statement true? Don’t some churches produce wood, hay and stubble and some businesses bring people into eternity?
Church and Business
Business and church are distinct yet similar. The three boxes on the next page show the distinctions and the similarities.
These lists are sample lists and are not meant to be exhaustive but to stir your thinking as you seek to relate the Bible to the most critical areas of your life: Develop your own lists as you think through how biblical concepts of leadership connect directly with your role as a business leader. We cannot ignore the reality that the Bible gives us principles to guide us in our day-to-day affairs. If it doesn’t it is totally irrelevant to our reality, and this cannot be true of God’s word.
Business Business/Church Church
To serve society
To glorify God
To make disciples
To meet people’s needs
To meet human need through career
To transform lives opportunities, income, gifts/abilities, life-To manage resources To meet people’s needs for changing products/ well biblical knowledge, spiritual services growth, fellowship/support/To grow people to the accountability/responsibility/To give financial return degree they want to grow discipline so people can find financial return freedom from guilt and resulting in To focus on mission/vision shamefinancial stability as God and God-given uniquenessprovides To provide an opportunity for public worship
Opportunity for success, To focus on unchangingstruggle/growth core values that reflect To train Christ’s followers in as a means to make Christ in our culture spiritual disciplines a difference for Christ To teach disciples to release
Opportunity for increased To hold people accountable control over life by learning maturity for the balance in their lives to trust God in relation to God, family,
Opportunity for increased career, nation To train in the discipline of maturity resulting in giving by guiding them to personal/spiritual To get the best out of trust God for financialtransformation people security by helping them resulting in personal/ learn how to give more than spiritual transformation To guide people in areas they can afford of motivation, communica-
Meeting family needs for tion, organization, vision, financial/ personal stability financial management, and ethical decisions
Raising a new generation of leaders
How to Run a Business like the Church
Here are some principles that will guide you in running a business like the church and also some questions that will help you evaluate how well you are doing.
Simple principles for running a business like the church
To run a business like the church appoint leaders who lead by creating an environment that brings order out of disorder by creating an environment that
Time out question:
What other things would you add to this list?
Questions to ask for running a business like the church
Identify the “broken windows” in your business.
Do you understand why they are broken?
Time out question:
What additional questions would you raise as you consider how to run a business like the church?