What “Business” Are You In (this applies to your church as well)

Have you ever been at a dinner party, social gathering or the like when you were asked “what business you are in”? How did you respond? Did you tell them what you manufacture or what product you sell or your area of service?   I have struggled with this for years.  When people ask me what I do, I too often will say, “We are designers, architects, contractors and facility managers for churches”. But is that really what we do or is that the means or vehicle by which we accomplish our real “product” and passion?

Think about the railroad industry….they really missed the boat (pun intended) when air travel and other modes  of transportation started to become popular.  In their hey-day, they were a monopolistic organizations with little to no competition and significant collusion.  The owners and leaders in the railroad industry were so determined to keep their empire safe, that they forgot what business they were really in.  They forgot that they were not in the railroad business….but rather in the “transportation” business.  Due to their lack of attention to their real business, they became myopic and failed to see the world changing around them.

That story has caused me to pause and rethink what is our real business at Visioneering Studios.  Here is what I think are our real businesses:

Storytelling Business:  The heart of what we do is helping churches and other organizations tell their unique story. Whether that is through the development of a master plan or architectural design or an interior design or actually constructing a facility, we help churches with storytelling and architectural evangelism.

Integration Business: Given our proclivity toward the Integrated Project Delivery method of delivering a development project (thus why we refer to ourselves as Integrated Project Developers), one of our core “businesses” is integration of all of the various parts, pieces, components and team members of  a development project. We are passionate about this and it defines our processes.

Solution Provider Business: We do not have a single client that is not trying to find a solution to some issue that they are facing.  It could be a solution for a first “home”, additional space, an extreme makeover, a resolution to parking issues, or a whole host of other pain points.

Now, to execute these “businesses”, we use services such as planning, vision clarity, design, architecture and construction, but they are merely a means to fulfilling our core businesses.

So how does this apply to a church…your church? To answer that question, I believe you need to ask and answer some “non-church” sounding questions….buckle up, this may feel a little uncomfortable:

1. Who are your customers?

2. Who is your competition?

3. What products do you produce?

OK…are you still with me? Good…I knew you would stick with this.

So, in looking at what “business” your church is in, I want to challenge your paradigm a little.

If your church says that your core “business” is:

  • Saving the lost, then make a list  of all the new salvations you had last month…last year.
  • Helping the poor, review your checking account and see how much of your total budget went to your outreach partners or the poor in your community
  • Impacting your community, then see how many of your people are volunteered in local ministry opportunities outside the 4 walls of your church.

OK…enough examples…I think you get the point.  This may not be a fun exercise…but it will definitely help you determine if who you “think” you are is congruent with who you really are.

So…what business is your church in?