Have you ever felt that your calling is not as “spiritual” as someone else’s? Has a friend or a leader in the church ever implied that if you were really “on fire for the Lord” you would drop your current profession and enter what is commonly referred to as “full-time ministry”? Have you wrestled with why God would give you skills and abilities in the field of business if that is not a valid use of your time?
In many church bodies, the Christian business community has been effectively marginalized by what Dr. R. Paul Stevens has poignantly described as a “Spiritual-Vocational Hierarchy.” Illustrated in the shape of a pyramid, Stevens shows how unbiblically some in church leadership view business people. Each level of the pyramid supposedly gets you closer to becoming more spiritual since, in the minds of these leaders, God is more pleased with the service of those in the upper sections—those known as “professional” clergy. (Apparently, then, He must be pretty displeased with lawyers, politicians, and others who don’t even make it onto the chart!)
Sadly, these are the prevailing assumptions about work in many churches, and they culminate in apathy, discouragement, resentment, and ultimately, a sweeping demobilization of talented people. The good news, though, is that many leaders are seeing through the fallacy of this pyramid and actively awakening people to the important work they can do for the Lord, both locally and globally, using the skill set He has already given to them.
In fact, this has now become a burgeoning movement of the Spirit. Today, it is loosely called the “business as mission” or the “Kingdom business” movement, but these are not new ideas. They are freshly packaged in a way that fits the global marketplace. Because God desires to use the whole body of Christ to advance the Kingdom around the world, He has opened up several options to gifted business professionals. Here are six of these options.
Option 1: A one to two week trip to train business people overseas
Do you like to teach? Do you have something of value to share with business people around the world? Do you want to share Biblical truths at the same time? Then why not take a mere eight days of your life to share it?
Opportunities abound to conduct seminars for business people internationally. In these seminars, you can share your business acumen, answer pressing questions, and really get to know businesspeople from other cultures. Importantly, as a trainer, you’ll also have an opportunity to introduce to Jesus the many non-Christians you’ll teach.
Gary Shotton, a retired business owner, explains: “To get business people around the world plugged-in to their calling—and to see a fire lit in the local church for revival—why not ask the countless number of highly experienced Christian business people in America to take a few days to share their experience? After all, who is more equipped to teach business people than business people? And as they spend a few days training others in the technical truths of improving sales, increasing production, and meeting customer demands, they also teach about ethics, honesty, integrity, and generosity as presented in the Bible. Everyone wins here.”
Sotten’s organization, Global Business Success Foundation, has been working for more than three years to create a model for these trips. That model includes these five aspects:
Business Mentoring Sessions: The trainer presents his or her expertise to a group of people interested in those skills. The teaching has a solid biblical basis but is not overt Bible teaching. For example, a sales person might teach on improving sales from the basis of ethics, honesty, and respect.
Business Visitations: The trainer visits the students’ places of business. The central purpose here is to build relationships and give encouragement.
University Lectures: The next generation of business people in every nation is studying at the universities. With formal invitations, the trip participants lecture to classrooms or even to the entire student body of major institutions of higher education.
Biblical Teaching Sessions: These are separate opportunities to teach Bible lessons about how the Christian faith applies to business and finance.
Personal Development and Fun: Apart from the development that comes from teaching, trainers grow personally and professionally by just being in another country. This is a trip to teach others and to share Christ, but it’s also a time to have fun and enjoy the uniqueness of other cultures.
If your church is already mission-minded, then consider adding Business Mission Trips to the list of other short-term trips that you may be offering. If you are not currently sending out short-term mission teams, then consider starting with Business Mission Trips. In the same way that a Teen Mission Trip is designed to use the skill sets and desires of a teenager, or a Medical Mission Trip is designed to use the skill sets and desires of a doctor or nurse, Business Mission Trips are designed to use the skill sets and desires of someone from the business and professional field.
Option 2: Consecutive Curriculum-based Seminars (CCS)
CCS is an expanded or “continuing” version of the seminar model in Option 1, offering consecutive, quarterly seminars for certification in Marketing, Managerial Accounting, Information Technology, Human Resources, Strategic Management, and other business disciplines. Because the repeated contacts naturally build relationships, CCS can be used powerfully by North American churches to provide world-class training to the unreached business community overseas, bearing substantial spiritual fruit.
Clearly in comparison to the one week seminars, the CCS model entails more of a long-term commitment to a community. It requires a substantial investment of time and patience to help transform business people and their companies through this training and mentoring process. But many have found the dividend to be well worth it, among them, Doug Hunter, a businessman and church leader at Perimeter Church in Atlanta. Using as his platform a business curriculum developed by a local company, Doug is mobilizing those within his church to implement CCS around the world.
For more information on how your church can get involved in facilitating the use of this dynamic seminar strategy, contact Scott McFarlane, Director of the Business as Missions Division of Advancing Churches in Mission Commitment (ACMC) at scottmcfarlane@ACMC.org
Option 3: Consulting with Kingdom Companies
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SOURCE: CBN News – From Regent Business Review, Issue 11.
Scott McFarlane is the Director of the EC Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the Director of the “Business as Missions” Division of Advancing Churches in Mission Commitment. Scott has traveled to more than twenty countries, studying issues related to culture, religion, business, economics, development and poverty. You can reach him at scottmcfarlane@ACMC.org