Joel Belz – Business vs. ministry


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, May 20th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

BRIAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Brian Basham. Up next, WORLD founder Joel Belz muses about a question you may have wondered yourself.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: When you pick up your latest issue of WORLD, do you think of it more as a business enterprise—or as a ministry? Do you think first of Truett Cathy or of Billy Graham?

From my point of view as founder, I hope you think of WORLD in both categories. 

WORLD is part ministry because it helps you develop your Biblical understanding of all that is going on from a God-centered perspective. But WORLD is also part business because you expect to get your money’s worth with your annual membership, and because you expect us to conduct our affairs in an orderly manner.

That blend always carries with it a certain tension. On one side we have a healthy desire to see God’s kingdom expanded. On the other, we take clear note of the tools we employ to bring that expansion about. 

So it’s right, isn’t it, to hope for and to plan on growth in the circulation of WORLD’s paper-and-ink edition? And for more subscribers to our podcasts? We all want to see the fruit of our work extended.

But at what cost? What if we discover we could increase our monthly downloads from the current 1 million to 5 million—but that it would cost $1 million dollars to do it? Is that a business or ministry decision? 

If at this point my reasoning strikes you as a bit muddled, you’re catching on! I freely confess to spending too many years uncertain whether I was engaged in ministry or business.

I vividly remember, some 25 years ago, boldly approaching a highly competent businessman who was already a generous donor. I asked him for a gift of $1 million dollars, which would go entirely to build the print circulation. I stressed how this would extend the “ministry” of WORLD.

“Joel,” he replied in kind but straight­for­ward tone, “you know I have a million dollars. You know that I may well give it to WORLD some day. But not now. If I gave it to you now, a year from now neither one of us would know where it had gone.”

My friend was way ahead of me. He knew the limitations of my mind when it came to “business” theory, analysis, and practice. He helped me learn a few of those things—before I handed the leadership of WORLD and its parent organization to others. Over the last decade, CEO Kevin Martin has displayed great gifts while thought­fully leading our World News Group team in the work of blending ministry and business in everything we do. 

I encourage you to apply the same kind of thinking to all the charit­able organizations you support. Do they thoughtfully blend ministry and business?

And don’t worry if WORLD doesn’t easily fit into one category. I hope we continue to wear both hats—and to wear them well. 

I’m Joel Belz.


(Photo/iStock)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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