Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Growing Through Different Stages of Ministry

Leadership in business and in the church

Bill Hybels of Willow Creek tells the story of a friend who is a successful business man.

‘My friend runs a company of about 3000 employees. He says he wants to relax after retirement and lead a church. He says it doesn’t have to be a Willow Creek style church, maybe just 7000 or 8000 with some growth potential. I told him that leading a church would ruin his retirement because it demands a higher and more complex from of leadership than business does.’

I think this statement is true. I’ve done the business thing. When you run a business you can hire a bright, energetic, young employee and say, ‘ Here’s our vision, here’s your part in it, here’s your salary, here are your perks, here’s your car, here’s your phone, here’s your secretary, here’s your office, here are your holiday prospects, here’s your promotion and here are your share options.’

As a church leader what do you tell your prospective church members? ‘You are depraved, degenerate sinners who are going to hell unless you repent and get sorted out with Christ – and that’s the good news!’ Then we tell them, ‘We’re going to ask you to commit to giving 5 to 6 hours per week in ministry, with 2 to 3 additional hours for discipleship. We’re going to ask you to get into a small group where your character flaws are going to be exposed and be chiselled away. We’re going to ask you to come under the authority of the elders of the church and give a minimum of 10% of your money - and by the way, there are no reserved seats, no special privileges and no voting rights.’

That’s the comparison between running a business and leading a church – and this is before we get into the area of the demands of pastoral leadership, where, on average, you would speak at a meeting of some kind once a week, often more. There is pastoral pressure – expectations that people have. There are financial challenges. You have to manage your family and work balance right. In business your family can implode and you can carry on in your job – in the church you are an example in all you say and do and a wrecked marriage can end a fruitful ministry. The requirements for church leadership are high, very high.

While I acknowledge that those in business have high demands on them too, I believe that Hybels has something important to say here.