In some ways, Christian ministries have almost nothing in common with secular businesses, but in other ways, the two have similarities. As believers, we can learn from both the differences and the areas of overlap. At Egiving, a business which was started by George Eusterman to help financially strengthen Christian ministries, we’ve studied and carefully considered these areas, and here’s the skinny on what we’ve found.
1. There are many differences in how they’re run and should be run.
Among the differences between how ministries should be run and how their secular counterparts are run are a God-centered philosophical framework and a donation mindset. The philosophy behind the finances of churches and parachurch ministries is much the same as the philosophy that should underwrite all aspects of Christian endeavors: It’s all about God. It’s not making money or even just meeting budgetary constraints. It’s not about being a well-run organization. It’s not even about accomplishing a specific ministry toward specific people: Ultimately, it’s about God. It’s His ministry, and He will provide staffing, funding, and whatever else is needed to accomplish His purposes.
The donation mindset also makes a clear divide between ministries and secular organizations. Ministries are not accepting payment in exchange for some kind of service or product; instead, they are entrusted with the money in order to fulfill the objectives that they say they have in view. This idea carries with it a clear burden of responsibility; ministries must take the trust given them seriously.
2. There are some similarities, because we’re interacting within the same cultural framework.
Instead of customers, ministries have donors or givers, but all of them are consumers who are navigating the world at the speed of light—right from their smart phones, tablet devices, and laptop computers. In forming a relationship with members of such a society, it’s important to be willing to interact on the level where they generally live. Maintaining financial commitments digitally allows for more easily maintained long-term relationship that can be mutually beneficial. No business that desires continued patronage eschews accepting credit cards or online sales, so why should ministries limit their financial outlets?
Another aspect of the culture is the ADHD mindset. We’re on information overload, and we’re all way too busy for our own good—or, often, God’s. As much as that issue needs to be addressed from pulpits across America, some aspects of our busyness are simply part of living in this technological age. For all our electronic calendar reminders, we forget. We forget to pay bills, just like we forget to give. The businesses and ministries that set up EFT systems not only help themselves, but they help their constituents to faithfully pay their bills, give their tithes, and keep up with the parts of life that they otherwise might inadvertently neglect.
At Egiving, you can learn more about how electronic giving and online giving can revolutionize your ministry’s financial situation for the years ahead.