4 Questions to Ask Before Doing Business with a Church Member

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“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

When he wrote those famous words, Charles Dickens may well have been referring to the experiences of those who have conducted business with someone from their own church.

At their worst these transactions can result in strife, discord, and deep wounds.

How can you avoid a potentially disastrous business deal with someone from your church? Start by asking these 4 questions:

1. Would I do business with this person if they weren’t from my church?
Sometimes a business person has such low character that we wouldn’t dream of doing business with them in the “real world”, but we will sometimes set aside our discernment simply because we are members of the same church. Always keep your business wits about you before signing the deal.

2. Is this person simply using the church to network for business deals?
Years ago a well-known network marketing organization was sweeping through our church. Our lobby was becoming less a place of fellowship and more a place where people were being “targeted” for invitations to hearing about a “great new opportunity”. Bottom line; don’t do business with anyone using the church as a prospecting pool.

3. Are you approaching the deal with your head or your heart?
No one wants to see someone from your church struggling to keep their business afloat. But sometimes their business is on the ropes because they’re just not good at what they do. Be careful not to become a victim of their lack of experience or know-how.

4. Would our relationship survive if the deal went bad?
Face it; some business deals just don’t work out. Deliveries can be delayed, prices from suppliers can suddenly change, services might just be sub-par. Be honest; if this were to happen could you continue to enjoy fellowship with this person in your church?

Some church leaders I know have a standard policy to never do business with someone in their church. I think such a blanket approach is unwise and unnecessary.

But I do believe that a massive dose of wisdom is required before signing on the dotted line.

After all; there’s more at stake than just a business transaction.

How do you approach doing business with people in your church?

the author

Scott Cochrane

5 comments

  1. “Some church leaders I know have a standard policy to never do business with someone in their church. I think such a blanket approach is unwise and unnecessary.”

    Can you say more about this?

  2. I absolutely believe in supporting people from my church with my business. I hope they tithe from their profits and I appreciate whatever is offered that meets my needs.

    At the same time, I am committed to wisdom, de-accumulation, de-cluttering and living simply. It is very easy for me to discern and avoid “business ops” that appeal to my greediness and ego (think how much more I could give if I was making more money?)

    I believe in disciplined, joyful, planned giving and have experienced freedom in Christ in this area.

  3. When I ran my Business (which I had for 20 years) I did have customers from the church, but there was times when there was customers that came there where from the church and I would find kind ways so that I would not have to deal with them. As Christians We/I need to be sure that we are shine God’s light when we are a customer. I know some times I have high expiations or want a deal, which does not leave any money on the table for the business owner to make a living on. This is not right either.

    I try to do business with Chritian’s. But I do want my Dollars to go as far as possible.

  4. I can appreciate the principle behind this post. Thank you Scott.

    I think it’s important to remember, as pointed out in the blog post, that these are questions to consider on the basis of being cautious. By all means, I think doing business with Christians makes sense, but it’s a different ball game when the Christians are in my faith community…that I see regularly.

    I liken it to being cautious about selling my car to a friend/relative. It may run fine, but when it cracks an engine block shortly after the sale…well, I think we all know someone that has experience that awkward moment. It can make Christmas dinners difficult to say the least.

  5. Love the conversation around this. This is a classic case of dealing with a ‘tension to be managed’, versus a ‘problem to be solved’.

    To that end, Chris, this is why I resist ‘blanket policies’ such as to never do business with a member from your church. That reduces things to too simplistic an approach. To me the bottom line in all of this is ‘wisdom’; recognizing that while there are potential “Kingdom wins” when you do business with someone in your church, there are inherent risks too. Wise leaders learn to assess and manage those risks before agreeing to do business.

    Verna, Henry and H. Buhler, your practical experience adds much to the conversation. Thanks for weighing in!

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