Let’s Get To Work:
Taking the frustration out of marketplace and ministry collaboration.

By Tom Bassford & Grady Hawley

frustration-babyEver been in a meeting at your church or favorite not-for-profit with both marketplace and ministry people trying to work on a problem or project together? Could you feel the tension? Did you sense the frustration? Were you completely lost in conversations that used words and metaphors that made no sense at all, wondering why it was taking so long to get to the “business at hand?”

You’ve been through half a dozen management classes, Dale Carnegie’s, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” and a “How to Collaborate Effectively Within Your Organization” seminar but none of that seems to prepare you for the thoughts and feelings running through your mind at the present moment. What’s up with that? Why is this so frustrating? Do I even belong here?

By the same token, you love your church, your pastor/priest. You want to help, give some meaningful expression to your own faith and make a difference both in the church and in the world. But it doesn’t take you long to realize that while “paying” and “praying” in your church may be easy and well received, “playing” is quite another thing. The collective experience of both marketplace and ministry people would suggest that these two groups find it more than a little difficult to “play” together when it comes to the work of the church, especially beyond the four walls.

So this is a blog for marketplace people who love their church and their pastor/priest but are frustrated at trying to work with them and within the culture of their church. It’s a blog for and by marketplace people who haven’t given up on the church nor its ability to impact our world and want to forge new ways of working with their pastor/priest and within the culture of the church. It’s not a blog for the clergy and I’m not trying to create a fair and unbiased treatise on the subject. My goal is to give voice to a group of people who are frustrated and need to articulate that frustration

If by chance you are clergy and reading this I hope you will resist the temptation to fight back and counter argue from your point of view. Take to heart that line in the Prayer of Saint Francis; “O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be … understood, as to understand.” Good things come of such wisdom and after all, we as pastors have the pulpit and pen on a weekly basis to give voice to our thoughts, frustrations and possible solutions. Just listen.

The ultimate goal of this blog is to create a short book (I’ve been advised it has to be a short book with no big or theological words) that could be used to help ministry leaders tap into and work more effectively with marketplace leaders in their church…and vice versa. I have a list of subjects we plan to cover and I’ll be asking a number of marketplace people to contribute to the blog along the way. We will post a new blog every 2 weeks and our hope is that you will help shape the conversation as well as the path forward with your comments and interaction.

Wild rumpus

To quote Maurice Sendak “And now,” cried Max, “let the wild rumpus start!”

So here’s the first question: How does any of this reflect your experiences?

Tom Bassford

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About the Authors:

Tom Bassford is an ordained pastor in the Free Methodist church and was in pastoral ministry for 32 years before starting Significant Matters in 2005. “I’ve lived in the tension on both sides of the equation. My transition out of pastoral ministry into what I now do with Significant Matters was, in part, because of an overwhelming conviction that as clergy we have to create the space for this kind of dialogue and ultimately a new kind of relationship between marketplace and ministry leaders if the church is going to flourish and have impact in our world.”

Grady Hawley is a “serial entrepreneur” having worked in the telecom, financial service and technology industries before starting a technology company, Soleran, Inc. in 2004. ”I’ve been around the church my whole life and deeply appreciate the difference it’s made along the way. Like a lot of business people I want to give back and make a real difference in the world through my church and some amazing non-profits. However, making an impact on those organizations and causes has turned out to be a lot harder than I imagined. I’m learning that we speak a different language, we approach planning, problem-solving, accountability and risk management from totally different lenses. What motivates me in this conversation is the hope that by talking through some of this we can learn to understand and respect our different perspectives, communicate collaborative strategies for progress, and finally roll up our sleeves and really get to work!”