Tuesday, November 4, 2008

(Business) Relationships

I think this may be the first serious post I've done in which I actually sort through some thoughts.

As a camp director, I find myself riding the line between business and ministry quite often. We're a ministry, so we want everything we do to be in the spirit of servanthood and to the glory of God. But we are also a business, and at the end of the day, we have to pay the bills to keep the lights on. Problems arise when the line between ministry and business aren't so well defined.

For example, one of my primary responsibilities is booking and hosting retreats. Easy enough, right? Not always. The majority of the groups who retreat at Camp Oak Hill are ministries themselves. Every day I receive calls from people interested in having a retreat at Oak Hill. Great! But these conversations are often awkward for me when I have to list rates and policies. Most of the time there aren't any problems, but every once in a while you get someone who wants to negotiate, or tell me that the rates are too high, or they want a deal because they are a ministry, too. As a fellow Christian, I want to help my brothers and sisters out and give them a quality experience at camp for the best possible price. But the reality is, there just isn't too much room for negotiation. The prices have been set because that is what it costs to operate.

This may seem like no big deal, but it bugs me. I'm all about relationships. But I'm finding in my current positition that I have to sometimes sacrifice a relationship for business, and this troubles me. If I give everyone a deal, I'll have great relationships with everyone. But at the end of the year, what do I say when we look at our budget and realize we didn't make it? Were the relationships worth it?

Currently I'm in a situation where I have to decide if its worth it to sacrifice a long-standing relationship with someone for the sake of business. The business side of me says we should go with whats cheaper. The relationship side of me says it'd' be a slap in the face to end our current relationship. So what do I do?

Business and ministry. An awkward partnership.


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