In my long career with Habitat for Humanity, the dichotomy of ministry vs. business often comes up in conversations, sometimes very passionate conversations.

Habitat is a faith-based Christian ministry, founded to show God’s love by providing an opportunity for homeownership to those for whom that is out of reach.  We do that inclusively, selling homes to partner families without regard to their faith status and inviting volunteers and donors regardless of that factor as well.  For me, that is Christianity as it is intended, working to build bridges with those of other faiths and no religious faith to come together and make a difference in a family’s life.  I love the quote from St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

But there is no hiding the fact that we are a land development business, home-building business, a mortgage lending business, and also a retail operation through our ReStore.  To be the best stewards we can be of the funds entrusted to our use, we need to operate to the highest and most effective business standards.  We strive for that and are continually improving.  That is true ministry to me as well—being effective stewards of God’s resources—getting the most out of the dollars we have to allocate.

The article in the October 10 News & Observer, “Habitat Builds a Sustainable Model for Social Change” treats well this ministry/business dichotomy.

When you consider it—ministry vs. business—you see it is a “both-and” and not an “either-or”.  To be an effective ministry, is to be an efficient and well-planned business. Over 87% of our funds go toward direct ministry (program) support.  That is a statistic of which we are very proud.