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Is Business Bad for Mission?

Work is Wonderful

Have you ever thought of God as a worker? Because that's what He is: God made the world and keeps it going (Psalm 145). We humans are to work too – not alone, but with and for God as His managers (Genesis 1:28). He tells us to be creative like He is, and to add value. Which is what business does.

So 'work' and 'business' are not necessary evils or a curse. They are a privilege; wonderful vocations to be enjoyed in the Spirit. As God takes pleasure in the physical aspects of His creation, we can also delight in creating products and services.

Sin Spoils

When sin came, it affected everything. Nothing was exempt – not the earth, nor people, nor the work we are to do (Romans 8:22). Work became difficult and started going wrong. It became harder to glorify God, and 'God's managers' became exploitive and greedy.

Focus on community was shattered by selfishness. We see work as mine rather than ours, and create separations where there shouldn't be any. Business is for Monday to Friday, and church is for Sunday; Jesus' mandate to us to 'Go and make disciples' (Matt 28:18-20) has become 'mission' which only missionaries do.

This doesn't mean though that Christians shouldn't engage in business. God's ground-rules haven't changed.

God Re-Creates

God has begun a new creation with Jesus in charge. 'Behold,' he says, 'I make all things new' (Revelation 21:5), including work! As we are transformed by His Spirit in us, what we do should be transformed too. We are to be salt and light everywhere, including the market place, and to stop separating work from mission. Jesus' command to 'Go and make disciples' isn't just about converts; it's about making disciples who work for Jesus at work as well as at home, and during the week as well as on Sundays.

Business as Mission

'Business as Mission' brings the mandates to carefully manage the world and that all Christians are to make disciples, together. A new dynamic with multiple outcomes.

A Christian business will have more than profit as its bottom line; environmental, social and spiritual outcomes will be just as important. There will be talk about God in the office. Fairness. Minimal waste. Employees who know where they stand. A culture of care, and prayers in the boardroom.

We have to be careful because making disciples needs more than godliness. Godliness is merely the start. It's the arena in which God operates; it's what allowed Jesus to say 'Unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God'. A non-Christian may see God's re-creation taking place through a Christian business, but it is God the Holy Spirit who changes us as we hear the Good News. Business that is truly 'as Mission' will include intentional sharing the Good News and be bathed in prayer that God will use the business to do His sovereign renewing work. God's work, and our work, as partners.

Business as Mission is intentional about the purpose and the impact of Jesus in the market-place. It asks: 'How can my work be used by God?'

--  Mike Workman wrote this article when he was a member of the GSI Project Team. Much of the content of this post was inspired by the Lausanne Paper (No 59) on Business as Missions. You can read and download it here.



 

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