17 Quick Business Tips for Pastors

“Using the following business principles, which I believe are biblically founded, God blessed our efforts.”

“Shoot pastor, I’ll do it.”

It was the winter of 1989. I had just attended a conference at Saddleback Church with my pastor. One of the sessions was on church planting; I had never heard the term, let alone have any idea of what it meant.

My background was in business; I understood a bit about franchising, and that is what I understood “church planting” to be. I was hooked. On the way home, I said to my pas-tor, “Let’s do that, let’s plant a church.” He said, “Who can we get to do it?” I thought for a moment, shrugged my shoulders, said, “Shoot pastor, I’ll do it!”

That spring, we planted a church. Using the giftedness God had given me, as well as a business model, we were able to grow the church to nearly 3,000 people. Twenty-seven years later and under new leadership, the church is going strong.

Using the following business principles, which I believe are biblically founded, God blessed our efforts.

1. When hiring staff, do not base salaries on need as much as the value the new team member brings (pearl of great price, Matt. 13:35-36).

2. Award success and use failure as a motivation toward success (parable of the tal-ents, Matt. 25:14-30).

3. Hire from the top (i.e., draft the best players), but be willing to take a calculated risk on a gut feeling (Gideon, Judges 6-8). Hire people who have been and/or can take you where you wish to go.

4. Few, if any leaders, can mentor beyond themselves (Moses, Exodus 3).

5. Be willing to “hire dangerous.” When I hired one team member, we were running about 300. When he left—taking a few staff and 300 folks with him—we were at about 3,000. I’ll make that trade every day. “Where there are no oxen, the barn is clean, but much increase comes from the work of the ox” (Prov. 14:4).

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6. The leader does not need to be the smartest person in the room (or at the table), just the one striving to be the wisest (Solomon, 1 Kings 3:5-9). Most smart folks work for wise guys.

7. Cast your vision daily. Tell your story with passion, and people will follow your vision (Elijah and Elisha, 2 Kings 2).

8. Everyone should be able to do his or her job better than the leader. And it’s OK if they think that they can do the leaders job better (Joseph, Gen. 41:37-44).

9. Do not confuse agreement with loyalty (Ps. 55:12-14).

10. If three people agree on the METHOD, you’re good to go. Yet everyone must agree on the MESSAGE (multitude of counselors, Prov. 15:22).

11. MEASURE the goal by the fruit of significance, not necessarily its success; yet nev-er ignore the numbers (Acts 2:47). When God invests in his people, he expects a return.

12. The people who got you to where you are may not be the ones to get you where you need to go (1 Kings 5:8).

13. Know where you are, and be ready to get out of the way when the time comes. Have a plan for succession (David and Solomon, 1 Kings 1).

14. Leave while at the top of your game, if at all possible (“I have fought the good fight …” 2 Tim. 4:7).

15. Hold on to your integrity (Job).

16. Demand accountability and be accountable (“Give an account of your stewardship,” Luke 16:2).

17. Hard work digs ditches; smart work gets the ditch dug. The purpose of work is to accomplish a task (“I must work the works of him,” John 9:4).

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Tony Foglio is a pastor, church planter, businessman and author of Discover the Bible: Journey Through the Bible As It Was Meant to Be Read (Thomas Nelson, 2004). For more information, go to DiscovertheBible.com.