Listen friends. We’ve consulted many, many people. In fact, being that our company specializes in ministry consulting, church growth, and non-profit startup, we’ve talked to more people who want to “start a ministry” than I can probably count. But if there is one thing I wish EVERYONE knew before starting their personal ministry, it would be this…
Doing what you love doesn’t always mean you have to start your own ministry!!
We’ve become a country filled with wannabe entrepreneurs. Look around and you’ll inevitably see someone telling you, you should start your own thing. They’ll tell you to go after your destiny, and start your own business, start your own ministry, begin your own church. Even if you’ve never had the desire to start your own company, somewhere on a Google ad, or a Facebook ad, or in an email blast, will be someone telling you that you should chase your dreams and start your own.
You best believe, if you are good at something, if you are passionate about it, somebody, somewhere will tell you that you should start your own business or ministry. “You have such a heart for children, you should start your own kids ministry!!!” “I’m telling you, you should start that non-profit for hurting marriages, you and your husband really inspire me!” We’ve heard so many of these stories, it’s unbelievable.
And then there’s the church. If you do ANYTHING well in the church; sound guy, singer, decorator, “hospitality ministry” (where did we even come up with that name), chances are somebody in leadership has encouraged you (or prophesied to you), that God wants you to have your own ministry or business.
Now, we’re all for people starting their own. It’s how we stay in business ourselves. If there were no small ministries, no small businesses, and no non-profits, we would be out of business. BUT, (and this is a big, HUGE, BUTT!!) just because you’re good at something, or you love doing something, doesn’t mean you’re supposed to start your own business doing that thing. Maybe, just maybe, you’re just supposed to do it and simply enjoy doing it.
You Want More Than Money!
See what a lot of people don’t realize is, there is more to having your own, than just doing the thing you love. You have to really enjoy the art of business and entrepreneurial practices to be truly successful in any endeavor, whether it’s ministry or business. Now this doesn’t mean, if you don’t have your M.B.A., or master is social work, or if you’re not an LMHC, then you’re not qualified to have your own endeavor. Many are and will do very well. But there are more people who don’t “love” what it takes to run their ministries, but they love running their ministries. Either way, you must be aware of and prepared for all the things that come with starting your own ministry or non-profit.
ULTIMATELY You’ll have to deal with:
Employee Management (Acquisition & Retention)
And those are just a small glimpse into the world of being a ministry leader. You’ll also have to deal with the day-to-day responsibilities of running the ministry. On top of all that you’ll have to also actually find the time to do that thing you love. You know, the reason you started the ministry in the first place.
Here’s a great example. It’s a story we like to call the “cake baker”. Well there was once a woman named “Jillian” who made great cakes. I mean these cakes were unbelievable! They were AMAZING!! They were like little morsels of heaven, moistly addressing your tongue with love and kindness, draped in frosting! Seriously, these cakes were good. Jillian would bake these cakes whenever there was a family event; a reunion, Christmas, Thanksgiving, a birthday. She would also extend her services to her friends from time to time, for a small fee. Basically, people would taste one of Jillian’s cakes and say, “You’ve got to make me one for (fill in the blank)! I’ll pay you!” And she would oblige. It was a few extra bucks for her, and a happy friend. How could she lose?
Well time after time, day after day Jillian would make these cakes and people would tell her over and over, “You should start your own bakery!” “People NEED your cakes!” “You would do so well.” Eventually, she bought into the idea. Jillian quit her full-time job. She gathered all her recipes, got a loan from the bank, found a small storefront, and started her own bakery.
When she first opened, business was BOOMING! Jillian couldn’t make enough cakes to keep up with demand. So, she did what all growing businesses do, she hired help. After 3 months, Jillian’s store was empty, and she was struggling not only to make rent on her store, but in her personal finances as well. What happened?
Her cakes no longer tasted the same. They were the same, but just not the same. Jillian came to Ovia and one short conversation exposed exactly what the problem was. “I just don’t like making cakes anymore,” she said. “Everyone wants everything different. People are never satisfied. And I never get the time to actually bake like I used to. There is so much else I have to deal with, I hate cakes!”
Jillian suffered from what many people encounter when they start their own endeavors. She allowed the pressures of “being in business” to strip her of the very thing she loved the most, baking cakes. See being in business take a lot. Running your own ministry takes a lot. When Jillian did get the chance to bake a cake, it was under such a stringent timeline and had so many other demands to go along with it (payroll, store rent, vendor contracts for flour & sugar, etc.) she didn’t get the opportunity to just take some time and make a really good cake. And it showed. Her cake quality diminished and her customers left.
Now most consultants would walk Jillian through the steps of picking her business back up, dusting it off, and putting her back in the game. They would be encouraging and inspiring and Jillian would feel like she could take on the world. (for another 3 months) Then she would be right back to hating cakes. Instead, when Jillian came to us, we asked her, “Why did you go into business to begin with?”
Her answer, “Because I love to make cakes.”
See the problem is, that’s the wrong answer. That’s a great reason to bake cakes, but a horrible reason to start your own endeavor. Sometimes, if you love to do something, you can just do it. You don’t have to turn it into an INC, or an LLC.
All of this is a bit of a warning for any of you looking to start your own ministry. If you find something you love, take a moment to truly evaluate your motives, desires, and expectations before you begin filing incorporation paperwork with your state. You might start the next great enterprise! Or you might find out, you’re better off just loving what you do.
What happened with Jillian? We discovered that she never really wanted to own her own business. She just wanted to make cakes. So, we walked her through the process of dissolving her organization. We ensured she would incur minimal losses. We negotiated her out of her vendor contracts, and equipment leases. We even found someone to sub-lease her storefront to make cupcakes. Jillian took a short break from the kitchen. No really, she hardly boiled eggs for like six months. But, eventually she found her way back and is now making cakes for friends and family again. Heaven has returned to the tongues of her loved ones and she loves baking once more.