Do Sound Business Practices Have Any Place in Ministry?

God calls us, not to success, but to faith-obedience and trust and service-and He bids us to be unconcerned with measuring the merits of our work the way the world does. We are to sow; He will reap as He pleases.” Charles Colson

While we may gain some ideas and practical methods from the world of business, we should not seek to emulate the world’s business and marketing practices.  God’s ways are far superior than man’s ways.  Surprisingly, He uses weak and simple things to “confound the wise.”  (I Cor. 1:27 )  In God’s “business” of drawing people to Himself and changing lives, we need to “get used to different.” (The Chosen) Our part is to step out in faith according to God’s leading no matter how foolish we may appear. 

Consider some of the bizarre-seeming methods God used to glorify Himself:

-He asked Noah to build an ark for… flooding rain. Whatever that is..?!

-He used a talking donkey to get Balaam’s attention. Say what!?!

-He had Joshua instruct the people to march around the city for seven days, blow the trumpet and shout.  How’s that for a sensible business plan?

-Naaman wasn’t exactly thrilled when Elisha told him to go dip himself in the muddy Jordan to be healed. But it was God’s plan and it worked!

-And shrimpy David was no match for a Philistine giant! Or so it appeared.

The list is endless. Indeed, God works in mysterious ways! Certainly these practices wouldn’t be considered sound business applications by most. From a natural perspective, they sound ridiculous, and yet, through the eyes of faith, God’s way is the only way to true success.

In the New Testament, Jesus had the servants fill jars with water and give some of it to the master at a wedding instead of wine. Risky! but it turned out just fine.

He instructed His followers to give up everything to follow Him, and His disciples to go out to minister without any money or food.  Eek!

With just 5 loaves and 2 fish, He and the disciples fed 5,000 people!  Doesn’t add up!

He taught about loving your enemies and turning the other cheek. The first shall be last. He ate with sinners and tax collectors, entered Jerusalem on a donkey, and, although innocent and sinless, He willingly gave up His life for the sinful.

This all seems upside down. Indeed, it is, because God’s values differ greatly from the world’s values.

So, I ask myself, Why would we think that we can figure out precisely how God will work, and narrow ministry down to a neat, worldly business model or formula? For we would see no need for God if we can simply follow the effective business plans of intelligent men and woman. Of course, we can glean some ideas from other churches and ministries. But we can’t expect what would work in one place to necessarily work in another.  For the Holy Spirit works as He wills, first one way and then another.