by: Terry Pauling
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” –Luke 19:10
I recently heard a host of a podcast describe success in business as doing these three things: Take care of the Team, Serve the Customers, Make a Profit. It was said that if a business could do these three things, then they would be in business for a long time and be successful.
It’s dangerous to equate business practices with the Church but I did it anyway. (I like danger.) I thought about these three things in terms of success in the Church in general and Mt. Calvary in particular. What would these three things look like for us?
Take care of the Team. In a business, the Team is usually the employees. A business leader must make sure that the people who work for him are cared for with training, compensation, vacation time, and much more. But what does that look like for a congregation? At first, our minds might jump to the church employees, like the pastor and the secretary and maybe the musicians and custodian. But that thinking is too small. In a church, the Team is ALL the members of the congregation. From the pastor, congregational president, and head elder all the way down to the feeblest shut-in or tiniest baby. Every member of Mt. Calvary has a part to play in ministry and part of our ministry is to take care of our Team. But this is not the sole focus of our ministry. Taking care of the Team enables us to do ministry but is not the sole focus of our ministry.
Serve the Customers. In a business, the Customers vary. Some businesses have a niche market, catering only to certain individuals or trades. Other businesses have a wider market, providing a broad scope of products and services for a wide range of people. In the verse above, Luke 19:10, Jesus tells us who the customers of the Church should be. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” The Church was created to proclaim the Good News of the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake to the world. It was created to continue the mission of its Founder and to seek out those who have wandered away from God’s grace and assure them of God’s love. The Customers of Mt. Calvary are not the people who come to worship on Sunday; they are the people who DON’T come to worship on Sunday. In worship, we, the Team, receive the forgiveness and mercy that we need not just for ourselves but also the forgiveness that we must distribute to those around us, those who may not know about Christ’s forgiveness yet..
Make a Profit. If a business spends more money that it makes, it won’t in business very long. Profit is ONE measure of a business’s success… but it cannot be the ONLY measure of its success. The truth is that many companies turn a Profit because they are successful according to a different measure and not because they focus on financial things. Likewise, a company can “run in the black” and still not be successful. Profit is a condition of success and not a measure of it. Let me be clear: just because Mt. Calvary is operating with a financial surplus does not necessarily mean that we are turning a Profit. Jesus’ statement in Luke 19:10 shows where He considers Profit to lie: in people. The Profit of Mt. Calvary is found in baptisms, confirmations, and people joining our congregation. Our Profit is measured in lives changed and people connected to our Savior. If we are faithful in Christ’s Mission of seeking the lost, then the finances will take care of themselves.
These three things forced a change in my perception of how Mt. Calvary operates. It challenged a lot of my perceptions of who we are and what we do. I hope it challenges you, too. Because we want to be about God’s business for a long time to come.
Pastor Tom Vanderbilt