In Matthew 10:16, Jesus leveled with his disciples and told them how to prepare for the work he was giving them: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” While Jesus did not instruct them to go out and pick unnecessary fights, he did warn that sometimes the fight would come to them.
As Judeo-Christian values decline in the public sphere and historic Christian beliefs are challenged in growing legislation across America, ministries need to seriously consider the breadth of their business continuity plan. In addition to making provisions for natural disasters, technological failures, and security breaches, there may be another category to include: expulsion from basic business services.
The last few years have seen several notable instances of businesses and individuals losing access to common services such as payment processing, web hosting, app store inclusion, insurance, and even banking. While many of these organizations were targeted for being embroiled in legal action or issuing distasteful public statements, it does demonstrate the consequences of deviating from mainstream perspectives.
Business service cancelation in the name of public protection may sometimes serve a legitimate purpose such as in cases where organizations conduct human trafficking or plan violent terrorist activity. But when public morality strays ever further from biblical truth, it’s not a stretch to imagine a world where orthodox Christian positions come to be categorized as grounds for expulsion by service providers.
What would happen if a major web host decided your ministry was a hate group and dropped your website? What if your payment processor cut off your ability to receive the donations that are the very lifeblood of your organization? What if your bank called your multi-million-dollar loan when you were only 2 years into a 10-year term? Or your vendor asked you to cancel your credit, debit or payment processing capabilities?
Hopefully none of these things happen to you, but they have happened to others in the last two years. As a steward of your ministerial calling, it would be wise to step back and assess your operational assumptions, even the more mundane ones. While vendors want your business, they also must respond to public perception, especially if they are listed on a stock exchange. If a point comes when a vendor decides that supporting you costs more than your business is worth, you may find yourself de-banked.
Developing a business continuity plan that goes beyond the usual categories of disruption is not a quick exercise, but it’s a necessary endeavor for any ministry that seeks to remain effective in a fast-changing world. Perhaps the most important step is to adopt a new approach toward vendor relationships: no longer ask, “what happens if this service fails?” and instead ask, “what happens when this service is no longer available to organizations like mine?”
Paul’s injunction in Romans 12:18, like most biblical injunctions, is both hard and hopeful: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” In our current moment, there are plenty of opportunities to take the high road and seek peace. But there may be social pressure that influences your vendors. In those moments we should pray for those who persecute us and then do what we can to keep our ministries operating for the sake of those whose hearts are open to receiving the Good News. Preparation includes reviewing how that might happen to your ministry and either aligning with vendors that share your mission or at least having a second source of services lined up.
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