I often get a strange look when referring to a pastor as a entrepreneur.

After all, a pastor is called by God to shepherd a community but anyone who launches a business idea can call themselves an entreprenuer.

Hear me out…

God called me when I was 11 at a summer camp and for almost a decade I served as a pastor in ministry full time.

Shortly thereafter, I worked in the business world in a full time capacity as well. I have worked in both spaces full time.

I have also worked simultaneously as a pastor and a business owner for many years.

After years of doing both, I have come to realize that running a business and leading a church are very similar.

The goals are different but the organizational and personal dynamics are the same.

In startup circles, you hear the term “solopreneur”

The Urban Dictionary defines it as:

“An entrepreneur who works alone, “solo,” running their business single-handedly. They might have contractors for hire, yet have full responsibility for the running of their business.

The typical solopreneur is easily tempted to become a work-a-holic, not feeling their work is ever done! They do the administrative tasks, marketing, customer service and service delivery typically by themselves.”

Sounds familiar doesn’t it…

Lets replace the business references with church ones.

“A pastor who works alone, “solo,” leading their church single-handedly. They might have part-time staff or volunteers, but they have full responsibility for the running of their church.

The typical pastor is easily tempted to become a work-a-holic, not feeling their work ministry is ever done! They do the administrative tasks, creative stuff, counseling and preaching typically by themselves.”

Being a solopreneur/solopastor is exhausting and also limits our effectiveness.

This dysfunctional cycle hurts us, our families and the churches we lead.

How do you break out of this cycle?

As church leaders, we can and should learn from the business and startup community.

If you haven’t read business or startup books, here are a few I recommend for church leaders.

The Automatic Customer by John Warrillow

This book is about creating a membership business but there are some HUGE parallels for churches. As I read it I couldn’t help but think of how the church could use this to impact tithes, online giving and your church memberships.

Amazon book link: http://amzn.com/159184746X

Predictable Success by Les McKeown

My biggest takeaway from this book was learning how to stack my team with the right type of person at the right time.

Les outlines four leadership styles on your team:
1. Visionaries
2. Operators
3. Processesors
4. Synergist

If your team is full of visionaries, everyone dreams and plans, but nothing gets done. This book will give you clarity on your team and organization alignment.

Amazon book link: http://amzn.com/1626340765

Built to Sell by John Warrillow

The title to this book is very misleading. It’s not really a book about selling your business. It’s a book about building systems in your organization so it runs like a champ without you having to do everything.

If I were to retitle this book for pastors I would call it, “Built to Lead.”

Amazon book link: http://amzn.com/1591845823


Churches and small businesses can be very different. But I believe we have a lot more in common than meets the eye.

We are all in the same boat when it comes to organizational dynamics, connecting with our audience and getting people to be engage more with us.


Justin Trapp

Founder at Ministry Pass
Husband to Tisha, Father to Shiloh and founder of Ministry Pass.
Justin Trapp