the congregation members are your investors

[part 4 of a series of blog posts about the values of the company 37signals]

This isn’t exactly how the value reads on the 37signals website, simply replace the word “congregation” with “customer” and there’s your difference.  Here’s more of the meat behind this value:

Our customers fund our daily operations by paying for our products. We answer to them — not investors, the stock market, or a board of directors.

The second sentence doesn’t necessarily apply to our situation as technical artists, but that first sentence really hit me.  This is a very humbling thought.  In some ways the difference between the word “customers” and “congregation” is similar, and in some ways the difference is vast.

To highlight the differences between a business setting and the church, I looked this definition up on Wikipedia:

A customer is the recipient of a good, service, product, or idea, obtained from a seller, vendor, or supplier for a monetary or other valuable consideration.

In our situation, the congregation is giving money, not for any kind of good, service, product or idea.  Our people are giving money out of obedience to God’s word.  They are giving their resources for the work of God to be carried out by our churches. 

Aside from the obedience side of this, people are giving to our particular churches out of a sense of trust in the leadership.  They are trusting that the money will be spent wisely; that the money will help advance the kingdom of God on this earth through the ministry of your/my church. 

In my role as Technical Arts Director, I am responsible for a large ministry that requires lots of resources to keep it running.  Am I spending those resources in the best way possible?  Would I be willing to stand in front of the congregation and give an account for the ways I have spent the money that they have entrusted to me?

Trust is a very difficult thing to earn, but it is extremely easy to lose.  When we are thinking about a new purchase, are we weighing it against this idea of trust?  If the congregation has placed their trust in the church’s leadership, are you helping build that trust by the purchases you are making or are you violating that trust by excessive spending?  Does that new piece of gear/new hire help advance the kingdom, or would it just be nice to have? 

While their tithes help pay for new gear, fixing old gear, and your salary; whether people give their resources or not, is an issue between them and God.  How you spend that money is an issue between you and God…and the congregation. 

Our congregations fund our daily operations.  Are we worthy of that trust?

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