Business is a legitimate part of the ministry and requires the same due diligence as teaching Scripture. It's the guide dog for those who walk by faith. But it's a paradox, too. Good business practices can deter good ministry practices. And when that happens, we find ourselves being tugged between doing what's right … and doing what's right.
This point got me thinking: What kind of advice might Jesus have received from "experts" who specialized in business development? Would their counsel back then have been that different from those who give it today? After all, business is business. So if Jesus had sought the advice of a slick PR firm, what might they have said?
On behalf of Century One Public Relations, Inc., thank you for responding to our ad in the Nazareth News offering one free consultation for new business owners. Your packet of information, complete with start-up ideas, marketing strategy, budget plans, and recruitment resumes arrived safely and has been evaluated by our in-house professionals. As you'll see, we've made some important suggestions that you'll want to consider. Our sole purpose is to ensure your success.
Your plan to announce your launch by proclaiming, "The Kingdom of God is at hand," is questionable at best. You'll need to find a more people-friendly hook in order to lure your prospective audience. We would suggest something catchy and fun that pops with pizzazz. Our more successful clients have used billboards, bumper stickers, and celebrity endorsements. Try to get the press involved; they always love Messiah-wannabe stories. We also suggest consulting a focus group to determine if there's a real need for your brand of religion.
We feel we should warn you about John the Baptist as your advance man. We're convinced that idea will never work. Whereas he is well known, he's also rather odd. Have you seen him lately? He wears the wrong clothes, his all-natural diet is a turn-off, and he seems so ill-tempered when he speaks. Quite frankly, we think he's lost his head … or soon will. What you need is our slick Promotions Department to roll out a glitzy campaign--not a hard-nosed fanatic whose only idea of a good time involves the word repent.
In your cover letter you mentioned very few personal assets. Your comment about "the sparrow being fed by God" doesn't cut it in the real world. Remember, cash is king. Faith in a higher power is admirable, but in order for your enterprise to succeed you'll need more than a few sermons and a winning smile. How will you live? What will you eat? Unless you can make a fish sandwich multiply thousands of times over, or magically turn water into wine … well, you get the point. We recommend you secure a business loan using your father's cattle on a thousand hills as collateral.
The twelve resumes you've forwarded are somewhat confusing. By and large, you've selected untrained amateurs, none of whom possess your philanthropic nature, all of whom are making mid-life career changes. It is our considered opinion that most of these candidates do not fit your business profile. They're woefully lacking in education, graces, and the background required for accomplishing your core mission. Keep looking for better hires. There is, however, one candidate who looks quite promising: Judas Iscariot appears to bring much to the table and seems to have friends in high places. He could be a real asset--maybe even your chief financial officer. So far, he's your only sure thing.
One final note: You may want to revisit your planned career path. As a middle-aged Jewish man, you must have heard about the many others of your faith who have followed a similar call. And, no doubt, you're aware that they rarely achieved financial success or mass appeal. In fact, many experienced rejection, exile, and even death. You seem like such a nice young man, we would hate to see you waste your time.
Please let us know if we can offer more guidance and insightful helps.
Leading a ministry of any kind is never easy. There will always be a multitude of opinions suggesting a better way, when the challenge for us is to choose the best way. Perhaps that's why Jesus' instruction to the disciples was so basic: Follow Me. Twenty-one times in Scripture He drove home that simple command. Follow me.
Obviously, Jesus knew all about the hoopla the PR folks were going to try to sell His twelve … and the millions who have followed their lead ever since. He knows what you face, too.