An Open Letter to Pastors Considering a Work/Faith Ministry in Their Local Church

Creating a work/faith ministry is something that many pastors are considering right now. It’s the “hot” new ministry. The “in” thing to be doing. It will lose its’ luster in a few years, but for now, it’s hot, hot, hot!

When creating such a ministry, it will be easy to overlook the humble Christian Business Owner (CBO). Developing a ministry to CBOs is one of the more challenging things that a pastor can do when it comes to new ministry development. There are a number of potential reasons for this:

  1. CBOs are a busy group of people
  2. CBOs tend to be isolated due to the nature of the demands on their time
  3. CBOs tend to have needs that are substantively different than others in your congregation
  4. CBOs tend to be smart and sometimes, rather opinionated. So you can’t just throw anyone in front of them and expect the CBOs to follow
  5. CBOs tend to be a small group, numerically. So you’ll tend to avoid spending your scarce resources on numerically small group
  6. CBOs tend to be influential within their industries, so they can be difficult to impress.  Ministry leaders who are accustomed to serving up shallow or thin materials to the “dumbed down masses” will find this won’t work with CBOs
  7. CBOs are sometimes beat up from one week to the next, so they’re accustomed to variations in emotions and schedules.  This can translate into variations on how they “feel” from one week to the next.
  8. CBOs often suffer in silence, especially if their business is going bad.  They’ll put on a good face, but they’ll need to you to be able to “read” them and know how to draw out of them what’s really going on in their businesses.  Don’t count on their spouse knowing all the details either.

If you, as a Pastor, were to divide your flock into two very dissimilar groups, it would be employers and employees. For the employers who come to your church, what needs do they have? I’ll be most Pastors have no idea, even though they lead their own staff and “business”, if you can look at it that way.

While everyone is jumping on the work/faith ministry bandwagon these days, bear in mind that there is a niche group – employers – whose needs are vastly different and, in some respects, mutually exclusive to the needs of the employees you’re likely meeting in your work/faith ministry.

Here are some of their needs that you, as a Pastor, might want to consider as you think about how to reach the employers in your church.

First, business owners are leaders and in many cases, while they lead staffs and budgets that are larger than yours, it doesn’t mean you can’t relate to them about leadership. Consider incorporating leadership training into your work/faith ministry.

Secondly, Christian business owners have a unique stewardship responsibility before the Lord that is not unlike the responsibility you have as a Pastor to a church. But their stewardship responsibilities are very unique when compared to the employees in your congregation. If you’re unfamiliar with Biblical stewardship, then please take some time to learn about it. You’ll swiftly see that business owners are walking a difficult path

Thirdly, CBOs tend to make tradeoff decisions on a near-daily basis. They are seasoned and accustomed to saying “no” to one party in order to say “yes” to another. If you develop a ministry for CBOs, make sure it is of high quality or you’ll find them opting out for something else.

Fourthly, CBOs tend to be very busy people. One Harvard Business Review study found that CEOs spend an average of 9 minutes on a task, sometime juggling as many as 50 projects at a time. Don’t be offended if they seem distracted – it’s because they are.

Lastly, CBOs needs (whether they know it or not) are to connect Biblical Theology with their daily work. They need both theology and very practical ways of implementing that theology. When you (or anyone else) teaches them, give them handouts they can immediately use to improve themselves or their businesses based on the topic involved.

CBOs, generally speaking, are not needy people. So they won’t clamor for your attention. But this doesn’t mean they don’t have needs. Try meeting with some of your employers in your congregation and ask them how your church can minister to them. It will be an exercise worth doing.

Bill English