Monday, November 26, 2007

Apples and Oranges

There is an excellent piece on church leadership by Bill Hybels available on the Christianity Today website. Hybel writes about something that I have long believed to be true and that is that people who have never served as church leaders, particularly people in the business world, have no idea how extraordinarily difficult it is to move churches forward. Hybels says: "When business people in our churches offer free advice -- how we should be doing it right -- we need to say, with no malice, 'It's not that easy, and its not the same. It's apples and oranges.'"

Now I realize that if I say such a thing no one would take me seriously since I have not build a one thousand member church with a multi-million dollar budget. And therefore, in the eyes of many professionals I am not qualified to say a thing. But it is not as easy to dismiss Hybels who could probably run any company with great success. Whatever anyone thinks about his approach to church ministry no one can say that he does not know a thing or two about organization and doing something in a top-notch way. In fact, many of his critics could learn volumes about how to do things with an excellence that is worthy of the gospel and not in the slipshod way that plagues so many churches and para-church organizations.

But all that aside, Hybels argues that there is a world of difference between running a business, even a big successful business, and running a church. He writes: "Church leadership is far more complex than that. The redeeming and rebuilding of human lives is exceedingly more difficult than building widgets or delivering predictable services." He then goes on to identify four reasons why this is true: 1) Every life requires a custom mold, 2) the church is utterly voluntary, 3) the church is utterly altruistic, 4) the church has the highest calling. Personally, I found what Hybels had to say very helpful and his article is well worth reading.

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