November 2, 2010 by Michael Dewalt
The question seems hard because it would seem that any ministry is a business, but yet there must remain some separation between the two. Why must there remain a separation one asks? We as Christians must look different from the world’s business and the way in which the world’s businesses work. Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” Because of this, the way in which fellow believer’s work in a ministry must look different from the world’s perspective. This means it is not handled, worked out, nor treated like the world’s work.
A business is a place where a person practices his or hers regular occupation, profession or trade. Business is the practice of making one’s living by engaging in commerce. A ministry provides exactly this type of atmosphere for believers to practice their God given talents and trades to work for the Kingdom of God and not the kingdom of this realm. A ministry is a place where a person practices his or hers occupation, profession, and trade in the service of God’s kingdom, doing God’s work in a godly environment. This is a spiritual work or service of any Christian or group of Christians working together for a common cause. A business sells a product and makes a profit for its self. A ministry serves Jesus Christ that cannot be done at a profit for its self, but for the Kingdom of God.
Both the business and ministry create a job for the individual to practice their occupation. The major difference is that a ministry is a business, but a business is never a ministry. The main focus of a ministry, or that of any ministry is that it must look different, act different, and reaction different to situations, how issues are handled, and how people are dealt with from a business perspective. What then is left for the ministry is to decipher what is more important to them. Being a ministry or being a business – and this is where things can get ugly. I think there are three things that a ministry can remember when being a business that can help them in doing their work for the Kingdom of God and not look like the kingdom of this age.
1. A ministry understands the value of its employees that work for them. They understand that they are dealing with souls and not just indispensable people like that from a business. A ministry differs than a business because it can relate to one another in the gospel, dealing with one another, understanding one another and having a common bond in the gospel that allows its self to be different from the world. In a ministry, the gospel can fix everything, in a business they continue to search for everything but the gospel. In a ministry one another value one another because instead of seeing an indispensable person who can be replaced. They see the person, the family around that person, and most of all the saved soul that is a fellow believer who has been bought by Christ. A ministry sees the believer as they are called by God to “be saints” (Romans 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2) and have come into a realm of peace (1 Cor. 7:15; Col. 3:15), freedom (Gal. 5:13), hope Eph. 1:18; 4:4), holiness (1 Thess. 4:7), patient endurance and suffering (1 Peter 2:20-21; 3:9), and eternal life (1 Tim. 6:12).
2. A ministry is different from a business in that a ministry can share in the communicable attributes of their God with one another. When situations occur, pressing times come and trails happen the believer gets to practice the gospel. Like that of a business, a ministry encounters hard times as well, but it is in the hard times and suffering that what makes the difference between a ministry and a business. In the business, paychecks are cut, families are torn, people are fired, and nowhere to run is the only thing left to feel. In a ministry, the believer gets to enjoy the sovereignty of God, but better yet he shares in relation in knowing both how to get through hard times and how to deal with hard times. A ministry when needing to work through things gets to practice those attributes that God shares with us. Like his knowledge (Job37: 16; 1 John 3:20), wisdom (Rom. 16:27; Job 9:4; 12:13), Truthfulness (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20), goodness, mercy and grace (Ps. 100:5; 106:1, 107:1), love (1 John 4:8), holiness (Isa. 6), his righteousness and justice (Deut. 32:4; Gen. 18:25; Isa. 45:19; Rom. 3:25-26). For a business, it is much easier to fire, let go, and move on finding another human being. For a ministry, although it is harder, they learn how to love like Christ, how to forgive like Christ, how to give grace like Christ and be merciful like Christ, practicing the gospel and those attributes which God has allowed his people to enjoy with one another.
3. Lastly, a ministry serves and works for Christ kingdom, not the kingdom of this age. Businesses serve themselves doing the work for themselves, for a purpose glorifying something else for someone else. A ministry understands its first and foremost goal in life and in all of its work: “That God in all things may be glorified.” (1 Pet. 4:11); and “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (l Cor. 10:31). A ministry understands that its citizenship has been called out of this kingdom to better serve another one, Christ Kingdom. A ministry that places business in front of its ministry still tries to serve Christ in this kingdom, but yet uses the world’s programs, methods, and means to achieve their goal. A ministry that does not understand this ends up pleasing man, making a name for themselves, forgetting truth, leaving behind its workers, and carry’s its pride along with them where ever they go. A true ministry must understand that they serve another kingdom, another realm, and that their ministry/business is held accountable to another ruler, another leader, and another king, their king, Jesus Christ. Serving in Christ Kingdom, the ministry understands that theology over rides everything else of this kingdom.
If we truly understood that business is ministry, and that ministry is not business, maybe we would relate with one another differently in our own ministries. Maybe we would care differently, maybe we would serve differently, and maybe we would see the importance of being different from the world. Maybe, just maybe we would enjoy practicing Christ likeness for the Kingdom of God differently, and not that which we have been called out of.