Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Not Business as Usual

Although the church is not a business, there are valuable resources from the business world that can be very helpful to those who lead churches, judicatories, or faith-based organizations.  I welcome the insights of people like Patrick Lencioni, Jim Collins, Seth Godin, Daniel Pink, and others who provide information and ideas that give us a new perspective on what we are doing as believers.  Of course, any writer, speaker, or leader—secular or sacred—needs to meet the tests of soundness and integrity but people like these often provide us with “best practices” that challenge us to do more.  They call us to do not just the minimum but to be better.

Christians are called to do more than the bare minimum in their lives and kingdom service.  The little book of James is a valuable resource as we consider the criteria by which our lives and ministry should be evaluated.  In James 1:22-25, we find these words:

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do." 

James holds us to a high standard.  In a very few pages, he challenges us to be better than the world.  Because of our relationship with God, we should settle for nothing less than the best in our lives, relationships, and service.

The words of James call the church not just to provide the bare minimum required by law or to follow the “best practices” of the world but to go further and pursue kingdom practices.  We should not only meet the basic personnel policies required by law or match the best standards that effective businesses use but go beyond and adhere to higher standards.

For example, churches and church related ministries ought to have the most progressive personnel policies and benefits available.  We should be in the forefront of providing maternity and paternity leave policies that encourage healthy families.  We should be encouraging our employees (and our members and supporters as well) to follow good health practices.  We should be providing the resources that help our employees do their jobs well and develop their skills.  In short, rather than thinking about the least that we can do to meet the minimum standards, we should be willing to go beyond.

This calls for good stewardship of resources by those in decision-making roles.  It also expects those employed by the church or organization to be wise servants of the ministry.

We serve the One who knows not only our actions but the desires of our hearts.  We have “looked in the mirror” and seen what God requires of us.  We cannot look away and forget what we have been called to show the world—excellence not mediocrity.

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