Church Business

Whether we like it or not, the Church of England is a business as well as a church.  It has staff and office holders to pay, buildings to manage and ministry to do.  These things take time, require organisation, planning, strategic thinking, teamwork and so forth.

It bemuses me to hear people complaining about ‘creeping professionalising of the church’, or warning of the ‘dangerous influence of secular business models’.  A small church may have a regular congregation of perhaps 20 people (with a larger electoral roll) and  an annual turnover of around £k 30.  Its income is likely to be largely donations (however regularly) from its congregation, perhaps some occasional office fees, and the results of fund raising events.  In other words, people give the church money, to be used for its work.  Donors, supporters, members, call them what you will, should reasonably be able to expect that use of their gifts can be seen and explained, via a decent set of accounts.  They should be able to understand current needs, and to be aware of possible future needs. 

A regular member of the congregation should reasonably be able to expect appropriate pastoral support when they need it.  A parish resident should reasonably be able to expect the same.  The provision of  appropriate pastoral support requires someone to hear a request (or see a need), to assess the level of need, and plan and deliver a helpful, well thought through response.  

A parish should reasonably be able to expect services of divine worship which helps parishioners connect with God, with the wider church, which meet local needs.  They might expect additional teaching/support in small groups.

All of these things require prayer, planning, prayer, time, effort, thought, prayer, resources, prayer and so on.  And I think we should be using help, skills, expertise, wherever we find them.  It doesn’t matter whether that is experience within the congregation, within the parish, from the Diocese, from the former life of the ministry team members or wherever.  Secular business models may not all be helpful – but the point of them is to pick and choose the appropriate tools and techniques for the job.  

I’d want a surgeon, an accountant, a counsellor, a teacher to be professional.  That may mean slightly different things for each job, but put it another way, I don’t want an unprofessional surgeon who damages me needlessly, an accountant whose advice is illegal, a counsellor who chats about my problems to friends in the pub, a teacher who ignores my children.  Professionalism is not a dirty word.

So if I use experience from my former life to inform and improve my ministry, that’s fine with me.  I’m called,  with all my experiences, good and bad, secular and spiritual, to minister to God’s Glory.  And I think people should reasonably be able to expect me to do so as professionally as this particular fallen and broken human being can.  


6 responses to “Church Business

  1. Absolutely spot on.
    And from the personal perspective God calls YOU – with all your experience, skills, training, gifts & natural abilities.

  2. Great post! People complain about so-called professionalism but they want it in the ministry when it comes to certain matters.
    Terry Reed
    Small Church Tools

  3. Many thanks for your comment, Terry.
    I think people confuse “professional” with “uncaring”, and think that aspiring to be “professional” in some way restricts God and God's action in our lives. Which I believe to be nonsense!

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