The Real Bottom Line – What Can Church Leaders Learn from Business Leaders?

Pat Wagner, co-founder of Pattern Research, Inc., hosted an online training session that I attended on January 8th. Her topic: The Real Bottom Line: Myths about Using Business Practices in Libraries. I spent most of the session writing down her bullet points, and brainstorming on their spiritual truth and kingdom applications. We ran out of time, so I contacted her personally, and she was incredibly gracious in sharing her PowerPoint presentation with me.

The basic thesis of her presentation is that library professionals retain many popular myths about business practices and leaders that hinder their ability to appropriate their practicality and use their wisdom to serve library patrons. She recommends that library professionals get past simplistic categories and arbitrary labels (public, non-profit, private industry). Clinging to these myths perpetuate negative stereotypes, limit potential sources of support, partnerships, and the ability to serve the communities around us.

In the coming days, we’ll explore some different myths, trying to understand their spiritual implications — and then talk about some important principles we can borrow from businesses that most resemble local churches.

In the meantime, share some off-the-top-of-your-head thoughts about business, business leaders, and their relationships to the kingdom of God. What ideas come into your mind with the word BUSINESS (especially with CHURCH in the background)?


About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 12 January, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This was one of the great failings of the church growth movement in the 1980s. Pragmatism became the order of the day, and we looked to the business world more than the Bible to determine our practices.

    There is room for looking to other disciplines to learn about church leadership, yet there is a real danger as well. The church is not an organization, it’s an organism. There’s a big difference. Ministers are not CEOs and elders are not a board of directors. Nothing good can come from them trying to imitate something they’re not.

    Grace and peace,

  2. Very true, Tim. That’s one of the major issues I want to talk about.

    Pat shared one of the ideas this way: With whom does a small-town library have more in common? The NYC Public Library or the diner around the corner?

  3. Incompatible? Yeah. That’s about all I can think of…

    (But consider the source. Haha!)

  4. looking forward to this one.

  5. There’s lots to lament with reference to this subject as some have pointed out. However, I suppose we’d all agree that there are some business practices that have value in any organization (or organism, if you prefer). A couple of quick thoughts. Organizations exist because they have value (perceived and/or real). When a group stops creating value, the group will cease to grow, decline, and eventually die. This is true of business and church. I do business with vendors based on their capacity to provide me something of value. I terminate agreements with vendors who cease to create the value they promised to deliver. I hire employees who are able to create value. Jesus rewards those who develop or multiply what they’ve been given; that is, those who take what they have and create something of value.

    The thing I like about a mission statement is that it forces a group to reflect. Why do we exist? Churches that thoughtfully develop a mission statement (rather than plagerize something that sounds cute) come to grips with their place in the broader community. Developing a missional focus may feel too cliche’ especially in light of the fact that so many have merely gone through the motions. But I think it’s (mission statement) a valuable tool utilized by churches and borrowed from the business world. Most of my time is spent enhancing the “creation of value” within our business organization via teaching or coaching or whatever term applies. In order to do that I have to know in concrete terms why it is that we exist. I begin our cardiology practice’s mission statement with, “As a mission-driven organization we enrich lives by . . . ” I want a group of professionals–physicians, nurses, diagnostic technicians, support staff, who are learning the joy of living through (not toil or labor or mere employment) good work; the kind of work that enriches lives, both of those we serve, and each other.

    So, why does your church exist? What value does it add to the community? If it’s not creating the King’s intended value, what’s the vision for how it ought to get there? What presently results from the group’s activity (or lack thereof)? Just something to think about.

    Ben O

  6. add two similiar individuaL life mission statements together and you get friends
    put three simliar indivual mission statements together and you get a church


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