The Business Of Ministry: How To Avoid Ministry Bankruptcy

If your student ministry was a business, how successful would t be right now?  Basically, Jesus is your product, the students are your customers, ministers are your sale staff and parents are your investors.  In our student ministry we are growing a good base of loyal customers and investors…the sales team are a large part of that, but we could do a lot better in attracting new customers and investors.
Sounds kind of funny, huh?  I mean how many of us really think of our ministries as a business?  But then again should we?  I think so because looking at the business world will help us with our:
Marketing
When you have the best product in the world (and I apologize to all I offend for referring to Christ as a product) getting word out should be no problem.  But for some reason it is, that’s becuase we treat Him like the best kept secret.  Companies with good marketing are companies who not only sell their product, but they live it, they show it off and they brag about it.  We tend to assume that people get it and that people want it, all that does is make a you know what out of you and me.

Public Relations 
How good is your relationship with your investors?  You know the parents.  If a company developed an us vs. them mentality they’d be signing their own demise.  I’m not saying we have to please the parents at all cost, but what are you doing to reach out to them and share with them what it is you want to do with their teens.  Basically, how are you sharing vision?

Organizational Systems  
Imagine walking into a Best Buy, the employees aren’t in matching uniforms (in fact it’s hard to tell if they are employees or customers), some of their displays are set-up, while some are broken, would you buy anything?  Probably not.  If you were to walk into your ministry with a fresh set of eyes, what would you see?  Our systems define what people see.  If our labor is organized and well thought out the fruit we will bare will be healthy.

Research and Development
If a company is going to grow it needs to know their target audience.  In order to do that you need an effective research and development team who is going to tell you your competition, demographics and the culture that surrounds your customers.  If you can grow to know your target audience you will learn to grow as a ministry.

Now some of you might find it wrong that I’ve compared church to a business, and I get it.  It’s small to compare Jesus to a product, but the truth is Jesus told us to, “Go and make disciples.” Businesses are constantly making disciples of their products, look at Apple and Starbucks.  They have customers who are not only loyal, but looking to convert people to their “way”.  Why aren’t we doing that?  Is it fear? Is it pride? Is it a lack of information? Sure it can be all those things, but we won’t know until we examine them.
To have a successful ministry you need to know your audience, you need to have organized systems, you need to build relationships with your investors and you need to represent Jesus Christ in the best way possible.

So again, should we look at our ministries like a business?  Share your thoughts

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  • Mike says:

    Yes, to a degree, but if we treat it TOO much like business, then we end up missing the mark. Likewise, when taking this approach, often times the “competition” is viewed as other churches rather than the real competition, which is “the world”.

  • Thanks for your feedback Mike. You are right about treating it too much like a business and confusing the competition. I think the step we need to take to avoid competing against other churches is by observing business models found in the secular world. They aren’t all perfect but some of the men fit perfectly with ministry. Thanks again for sharing.