We Are a ‘Church,’ Not a Business

By Rev. Toni G. Boehm, Ph.D., USCR Ministry Consultant —

“This is a spiritual community, not a business.” How many times has this been said in your presence, as a minister or spiritual leader? As a consultant, doing leadership and board trainings, I hear it all the time from the key leaders attending the trainings.

I find it interesting that right after making this bold assertion, we go on to talk about agenda creation, how to conduct effective meetings, what constitutes effective teams, specific issues affecting the progressive of the ministry, solution creation through viewing all the pros and cons, and so much more – all of which are imperative to a decision-making process and the effective running of a successful business. The difference is that, in a ministry, board and leadership meeting starts with a prayer or time of silence and some sacred sharing and then moves into the business at hand.

Charles Fillmore

Charles Fillmore

In the early 1900s Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, had a monthly magazine dedicated to bringing spiritual principles to business. He called it Good Business. He met with business leaders frequently and had a business group he met with that was dedicated to this cause. In fact, one of those business leaders was a man who became known as Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

So what makes the difference? What is the key as to whether we are ministry doing business or a business doing ministry? What constitutes good business in a spiritual setting? As a consultant I believe the difference is intention, the intention we hold for the entire process. Thus, it is not the idea that we say a five-minute prayer before starting our meeting.

There are several elements that contribute to the formation of our intention in order to bring spirituality in business. The elements include the focus we hold around Purpose, Activity, Success, People, Feelings, Decisions, Money, Culture, and Vision.

ElementBusiness ViewSpirituality in Business View
PurposeMake MoneyTransformation/1 Presence 1 Power
ActivityProductionSpiritual Business Supporting People
SuccessProfitLives Are Changing
PeopleExpendableGod is Source, People Are Resources
DecisionsBottom-line $Principle-Discernment-Clarity-1 Presence 1 Power
MoneyGoalChannel for Good & Good Use
CultureDriven by MoneySpirit 1st/Spirit Led
VisionOuter Oriented $Centered in Spirit We Discern Our Future

Clarity! Being clear on what drives your board and leadership team makes all the difference. Mr. Fillmore said over and over; “Unity is based upon practical spirituality.” This is not pseudo-spirituality – “Oh, God is in charge, and Divine Order prevails.” – all said without a thought about what is underpinning the basis of our decisions – which often as a consultant I see is actually – FEAR! Fear of not enough, not having enough, not being able to _______ fill in the blank… This is subtle and it is a reality. Unity professes, “There is only One Presence and One Power…” If this is true and it is, then we cannot hold a thought of fear and believe we are living One Presence and One Power. Fear cannot exist in the presence of One Presence. It can’t, by the nature and virtue of One Presence.

In presence of One Presence and One Power, there is only one condition – God the Good, Omnipotent. Either the teachings are true or they aren’t. Myrtle Fillmore, shared with the world how this works when she was asked about money during a lean time in Unity’s history – “Let us not hope that our money holds out, let us hope that our faith holds out.” And in another instance, it was said that someone asked Myrtle, “Where will the money come from?” and she responded, “Wherever it is in the Universe, now.”

So, what must leadership do as a first step toward practical spirituality? First, and foremost, begin by acknowledging that ministry is about spirituality and the transformation of lives and yet must be run with a mindset of a spiritual business.

Does this mean that the “bean-counters” are in charge? The ones with the most business experience reign? Or does it mean that the board takes over the day-to-day running of church and the minister becomes a figure head who only does Sunday mornings and classes? No!

It means that a board looks at the above-mentioned elements, individually, and discerns with great clarity, through individual self-observation, what thoughts they are holding around each element until they come into a spiritual alignment regarding how the ministry actually functions and will function within the context of each of the elements.

What’s in your wallet? That is not the question – the real question is, “What’s in your consciousness?”

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Toni G. Boehm, is your USCR Ministry Consultant. She can be contacted at 816-304-3044 or by email. USCR’s mission is to support your ministry and leadership education and training. All expenses, except the generous love offering for the experience, is paid by USCRegion.


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