Monday, September 30, 2013

Ministry in the Marketplace

There is a world of possibilities that can expand the ministry reach of any organization when business and church work together. Add to that dynamic the interaction of a person's vocation and faith and we see the potential more clearly.

Churches have long operated day cares and thrift shops and some have, even, started moving and landscape businesses to provide jobs for their members. The merger of business and ministry in these instances provided a sustainable way to use existing resources to benefit the community by providing needed services.

A growing number of churches are tapping into the business expertise of church and community members to create new opportunities. They ask the question, “What kind of business can we start that will benefit our community by providing jobs and meeting real needs?”

The types of businesses started by churches include coffee shops, bakeries, landscaping, print shops and more. The chronically unemployed can be hired and trained. Further training in such life issues as financial management can be offered, as well. The businesses provide a profit that can be used by the church for overhead, missions or reinvestment in other business ventures.

One pastor of a congregation that had stagnated after building their small church came up with a creative solution. He and his wife started a daycare and payed the church rent for use of the facilities during the week.

The church could not afford to pay him a full time salary, so they expected him to have a job. The daycare kept him close to the building and put him in direct contact with families who were prospects for his church. This is certainly an easy model to follow in just about any community.

Starting a cleaning or landscape business is a little more complicated. These are often started to help men and women coming out of incarceration. A nonprofit group can start such a business with the help of a group of churches and businesses that will agree to use their services. Although it is complicated, there are groups that use this model.

At the other end of this spectrum are businesses that either operate as ministries (publishers, bookstores, AWANA, etc.) or use their business as a tool to support Kingdom objectives. Examples of the latter include using profits to support ministries, hiring people who come from job training programs, and providing free services.

The church in the marketplace creates many opportunities to do good.

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