9 Action Steps for a Successful Transition From Business to Ministry

business to ministry

The church is blessed by the many business leaders moving from business to ministry.

Men and women of all ages from a wide variety of backgrounds have sensed a call to ministry, and many at great sacrifice, have made the change. They bring so much valuable experience to church leadership.

One of the most common things Christian business leaders say in their first three months working in the church is, “I thought this would be so much easier. I had no idea it was this intense… it’s like the church never sleeps.”

The truth is that nothing worthwhile in life is easy. That includes ministry, business, and family life. There are misconceptions in all arenas.

“Ministry is easy” is just one misconception. There are many.

Here are a few more misconceptions:

Ministry always feels spiritual.
All of ministry is spiritual, but there is nothing particularly spiritual about Monday morning. Ministry is amazing, but it is also work, and a lot of it, including such things as budgets, reports, meetings, problems to solve and even conflict to resolve.

Ministry is reserved for the spiritually elite.
In a word. Nope. Those of us who serve in ministry are just as human as the next person. Those in ministry do their best to follow Christ and set a good example, but none are “spiritually elite” or exempt from messing up.

Ministry is like going to church seven days a week.
Church is a one-hour experience, a very valuable and important one, but the work of advancing Christianity often feels very little like attending church. A worship service celebrates God among us; the work of the church is out in the community the rest of the week.

I was a Private Investigator, (right out of college, and for only about a year,) but I still remember the transition from business to ministry and my misconceptions. My main misconception was that all churches were big. The church I attended was then about a thousand people on Sunday morning. I had no idea that the vast majority of churches were less than 100 people.

NOTE: For this post, I gave a brief survey to seven of our staff memberswho had extensive backgrounds in business and successfully made the transition. The group included men and women, a wide age range, various departments, and time in ministry ranging from a few months to twenty years. 

The result was pages and pages of incredible insights which I have done my best to incorporate into the article.

In addition, over the years, I’ve talked with hundreds of people who have made the transition from business to ministry.

That’s enough introduction, let’s jump in!

9 action steps to make a successful transition from business to ministry:

1) Moving From Business to Ministry: Settle your calling.

Many of the sharpest leaders I know are brilliant in business and dedicated Christians.

God needs and wants influential Christian leaders in business. It is sometimes easier to be a strong light for Jesus in the marketplace than in full-time ministry. Many of the businessmen and women I know are making a significant impact in their communities, shaping and even changing the culture.

All the more important, then, to be crystal clear on your calling from God or don’t make the change. Full-time ministry is not something to be explored after you start; it’s something to abandon to once the decision is made.

Pray long and get wise counsel. A sense of passion, longing, clear prompts, and confirmation are needed. A call to ministry is not about getting spiritual goosebumps, it’s a matter of certainty, or wait until you are as sure as you can be.

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Dan Reiland
Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together.