As a child, I bagged groceries, cut steaks, and worked in the office of my dad's meat packing plant. If you're ever in Wayne County, Ohio, check our Marshallville Packing Company. Anyway, as I grew, many people wondered whether I'd follow in dad's footsteps. My answer was always the same: I like the work, but I loathe the business side of things.
So instead, I became a pastor.
What I didn't realize as a teenager was that pastors almost inevitably become involved within the business aspects of church. Though we're called to the worship and service life of the church, that often includes ordering supplies, coordinating staff, and dealing with outside contractors.
Here in my first call, the building renovation process brings excitement about the potential for new and reinvigorated ministry. At the same time, it also brings me a distinct level of anxiety. Missed deadlines, botched projects, and unexpected needs for supervision were all things I saw my dad deal with day in and day out at MPC. I never considered that pastors might also have to deal with that as well. We do.
However, this is not making me wish I had become a butcher instead of a pastor. Rather, it's a constant reminder of why I believe God called me to this place in life. I love the vast majority of my work, whether preaching, leading worship, community organizing, ministry development, leadership education, and a myriad of other things that truly bring me joy. When I end up in the business side of the church, I give thanks to God that the church is not a business.
Yes, we have budgets. Many have buildings. But long before the advent of capitalism, the church existed as the Body of Christ in the world, trying to live life differently in order to point all creation to her creator , seen in Jesus. The business world is not our home; rather, we belong in the Kingdom of God. We sometimes become emissaries into commercial realms, but as ones who say that people matter more than bottom lines, that good news is found in forgiveness and hope rather than profit shares and dividends, that the reason for existence is not to accumulate wealth, but to share all that we have for the sake of Jesus.
I still have to deal with business as a pastor, but thanks be to God that we're not in the business of selling grace or profiting off of Jesus.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.