10ST – Mixing Ministry & Business

Mike —  May 9, 2011 — Leave a comment
10ST is an ongoing series digging into Geoff Surratt’s Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing and how those stupid things keep youth ministries from growing as well.
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This stupid thing is a little tricky. It must have been difficult to write – mixing the business of authoring with the ministry Surrat was leading at the time. (He does mention writing on vacation time to avoid an improper mix.) I’m inclined to think that this issue isn’t quite as black & white as the title implies (and the actual content of the chapter indicates as much).
The point is still valid: It’s stupid to use your position in ministry to gain a business advantage for yourself. Many pastors work bi-vocationally and do so with integrity. A list of my favorite pastors would include people who also make money as authors, entrepreneurs, film-makers, and a geologist. But very clear boundaries have to be established in order to successfully mix business and ministry.
In youth ministry, these boundaries may need to be even more sharply defined. A youth ministry friend of mine had a roofing business. During summers, he spent a good deal of time shingling roofs with his small work force, which was primarily made up of his students. It would have been really easy to develop a division between students that worked with him and those who didn’t. He had to be careful not to create that kind of atmosphere, while at the same time make the most of the opportunity to develop those relationships by working together. He did a good job on both fronts, but I know that’s not always the case.
If we’re employing our students in any kind of outside business, at what point do we diminish our capacity to pastor them? If they decide to leave our group, do they lose their job as well? Are they only participating in our youth ministries to keep their part time jobs? 
On the other hand, working together could be a great opportunity for building relationships. I’ve worked part-time coaching soccer at a high school, where I was able to meet students I’d never have contacted otherwise. As some of my players got involved in our youth ministry and came to know Jesus and be a part of His Body, I wonder if I was always maintaining a healthy mix. Did the players and managers who never connected with the church still feel like they had “equal access”? For a while, I also worked part-time at a go-kart place where some of my students also worked. I wasn’t the boss or anything, but I wonder what the effect was on our group dynamics… (I think they secretly enjoyed getting to tell me what to do since I was the new guy!)
Lots of good stuff in this chapter to keep in mind.

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