MBA, masters of business administration, letter blocks, pastors business degreeShort answer – no…um, sort of.

There are similarities between a business and a church congregation, including:

  • both manage (or try to manage) lots of money;
  • both have mandates which require strategic planning to achieve;
  • both manage (or try to manage) human resources;

and it’s painfully frustrating to see our beloved church not make progress that it could. Of course, there is certainly value to a church adapting some business best practices as well as benefitting from members who have education, experience and expertise honed in professional settings.

As a matter of fact, Jesus told a parable in which a crooked steward was commended for being wise in his crookedness! Luke 16:1-9 has this most curious parable, which is wrapped up with “…the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” It suggests that we ought to be as wise, in our Father’s business, as that crooked steward was in his.

Wisdom would suggest we go ahead and tap into the gifts, talents, skills and expertise that are present among our diverse membership. And, that’s brings us to the aforementioned “sort of.”

Having people in leadership with education and experience in several key disciplines – marketing, accounting; law; medicine; engineering; logistics; administration – is absolutely sensible if we want to be successful in our church mandate. As the chair of the church board (or, as we call it at Kanisa, the council), the pastor is responsible to coordinate the smooth interaction of the leaders in the execution of the church’s business; so, if (or, when, as the case ought to be) the church has leaders with a variety of skills, the church should have all the business talent it needs.

In the meantime, the chief responsibility of an under-shepherd of Christ Jesus is not a focus on money or business or strategy – it’s about loving people, sometimes even sacrificially. Check out Ezekiel 34 and Philippians 3:3-10.

Consider Samuel being sent to Jesse’s house to anoint the next king of Israel. En route he met a fellow named Eliab and he was impressed. However, God said “man looks on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:6-7) – the outward things are not our source of qualification.

Church leadership is a spiritual enterprise first, whose mandate is not to “maximize shareholder value” as measured by money, stock price, market share, or any other such material evaluations: we’re in the business of witnessing for Christ in an organized manor which does indeed include – but is not lead by – business acumen.

Would it hurt for a pastor to get a business degree? Not at all. But I don’t think it’s necessary, and is no more an indicator of potential success than a theological degree. In fact, without love, it’s all just noise (1 Corinthians 13).