All right, enough already! Why do churches need to look at business principles?

Simple reason – it’s payback time!

Here are just a few books available today which apply Christian or biblical principles to business:

  • Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership
  • Business By The Book: Complete Guide of Biblical Principles for the Workplace
  • Bulls, Bears and Golden Calves: Applying Christian Ethics in Economics
  • To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise
  • The Bible on Leadership: From Moses to Matthew — Management Lessons for Contemporary Leaders

This is just a very small sample. In looking at my search terms of “Christian Business,” over 2,500 titles seem to be available on

Churches have essential work to do; there is absolutely no doubt about it. It is a different type of organization – caring by nature, loaded with volunteers, driven by a calling, centered on Christ-like behaviors, etc.

I do believe, however, there are some important business principles which need to be applied. Given the importance of the work, more than any other organization, perhaps, it needs to be led passionately and excellently.

Maybe there should be books written like:  Winning: Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions in Churches Today by Jack Welch or Pour Your Heart Into It: How Churches Can Build a Christ-Centered Movement One Person at a Time by Howard Schultz. Sound interesting, right?

Okay, enough for my attempt at humor…

From a business perspective, outlined below are some of the principles which I believe should be leveraged by churches.

Leadership.  Solid, consistent, and challenging leadership is required. A lackadaisical approach is really unacceptable. Leadership means:

  • Organizing and energizing people to accomplish defined missions.
  • Developing staff members to leverage and advance their talents.
  • Defining, communicating, and engaging people in a direction and associated initiatives.
  • Exhibiting the character and qualities which set an example and inspire others.

Accountability.  Holding staff and volunteer leaders accountable is sometimes lost in religious organizations. They are supposed to be caring and accepting, which can be interpreted as being soft. Although this is partly true, accountability means:

  • Ensuring the staff team members are high-performing in the work they do.
  • Establishing clear expectations and providing timely feedback and guidance.
  • Terminating staff members who are not delivering to the agreed to objectives and expectations.

Customer Focus. Customer focus may be centered on two audiences – keeping aligned with God (absolutely) and ensuring church members are being served and are serving. Focusing on the latter audience may include:

  • Surveying members to gauge satisfaction, needs, ideas, etc.
  • Gathering feedback in small groups; listening and then acting on the information collected.
  • Calling a member who hasn’t been in church for a few weeks to find out why, or calling a member who left to join another and learn why.
  • Defining and tracking key customer measurements, internally as a church leadership team. Knowing what is happening and the trends are essential in any organization.

PlanningBill Hybels pointed this out during this year’s Global Leadership Summit. If you want to get from here to there, you will need a plan and milestones, so people will join and help move the mission forward. Planning means:

  • Defining the vision and communicating why maintaining the status quo is not a real option.
  • Determining the key milestones along the way; establishing objectives and then measuring.
  • Celebrating the milestones and the victories along the way.
  • Keeping it simple, straightforward, focused, and understandable.

Marketing.  Like it or not, a church carries a brand. There is a reputation assigned to the church by its members and their actions and interactions. There is a promise offered by a church, whether it is being more mission-oriented, learning-oriented, music-oriented, etc. There is a brand, and it sometimes may not be what you want it to be. Marketing in a church may mean:

  • Taking the vision and ensuring the brand is understood by everyone; I mean everyone. Communicate it, live it, act on it… Be consistent.
  • Delivering a website which reflects your church properly and engages the people who visit or read it. If you want the person who enters your doors for the first time to be welcomed and engaged, then apply the same principle to your website. In today’s world, the first engagement opportunity many times is your web presence.
  • Using new technologies like social media to attract, engage, and interact. The conversations are happening on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Once pursued, it must be current and active. Be present.

Through all of this, never, ever lose sight of the mission of the church. Using some basic business principles will just empower the mission to higher levels of meaning, engagement, and success. Success through the church is a good thing.

What business principles are applied in your church? What business principles would you like to see used? Join the conversation.