The Real Bottom Line 2 – Myths about Business

Welcome! Thank you for sharing your time! We’re still talking about The Real Bottom Line: Myths about Using Business Practices in Libraries, Pat Wagner’s training seminar which spurred this discussion. Her thesis is that library professionals need to move in their thinking past simplistic categories and myths that perpetuate negative stereotypes and limit potential sources of support, partnerships, and the ability to serve and support the communities around us.

Serving and supporting the communities around us is an under-emphasized kingdom agenda, and many of the terrible times in our history can find much of their explanation in Christian acceptance of negative stereotypes. So Pat’s ideas had some serious resonance for me. Let’s get into some of the myths she has spotted.

Tim hit the first one square on the head. He said, “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.”

Myth #1: All businesses are alike.

“All businesses are large corporations with 1000s of employees and stockholders, with identical ways to create value, make $$, have fun, & serve customers.”

I admit – I shared this myth, and I felt just silly when Pat shared the truth behind it. There are many different business models, sizes, and strategies.

  • Public Corporate
  • Private Corporate
  • Partnerships
  • Family business
  • Contractual
  • Sole Proprietorship

Sizes: 1 to 100,000s of employees

Delivery models:

  • wholesale? retail?
  • catalog? online? storefront?
  • personal delivery? face-to-face?

There are franchise models like Chili’s or Quizno’s, and there are entrepreneurs who will open their own little restaurant that serves home-style cooking for a decent price, with a little something special everyday (okay, now you know my dream business! don’t laugh too hard!)

There are businesses that make stuff. Businesses that deliver stuff. There are businesses that fill special niches. There are businesses that try and serve a target audience. Some businesses try and make what people love. Some work on what people ask for. Some — think Apple — guess what people want and innovate. Others create cool stuff and hope we’ll buy it!

Businesses are NOT all the same — and neither are congregations. A little storefront church in Naples, Italy has more in common with the shops and cafes near it than it does with a mega-church in Houston. A medium-sized church in Frankfort, KY might have more in common with a local non-profit organization or small business than it does with either of those congregations.

Why should each of those churches exhaust themselves trying to look alike, when their Sovereign has sent them TO THEIR UNIQUE COMMUNITIES to serve their unique needs and to be salt and light for them, not pearls that won’t feed anyone. All businesses are not alike — all churches don’t have to be alike.

Next time? What about money? What are some myths about businesses and money that need to be dispelled?

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 18 January, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. We get more of what we celebrate. We get more of what we measure because the measurement suggests that we value the thing measured. What do churches celebrate? Meeting financial goals. Completing a building project. Ability to hire more staff. New staff-heavy and costly programs. All of the above are supposed leading indicators of a church’s health. What’s news amoung us if not this sort of thing?

    If we are shaped by Jesus’ life, then our church’s should learn to celebrate and value the things he celebrated and valued. As the protagonist of the gospels he was a force touching a world that was in pain while insisting that those who claimed to be God’s people stop embracing the values of “the world.”

    There was a visible difference between Jesus and all else around him, just as there was a real difference between the early church and the world of trade and commerce, as well as the church and political structures.

    Therefore, listen to the language of a church on Sunday morning and know what it celebrates. Read the budget and realize what it measures. Watch how it uses it’s facilities. Question whether or not it is giving in to the temptation for status through the use of its treasure and time, or whether it’s being led by the spirit to be for the community who Jesus was for Galilee and Judea. Who does the budget say that we are?

  2. I always enjoy reading your writings Nick …

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