I recently put together some thoughts on ‘missional business’ arising out of discussions we have been having in The Crowded House …
Missional Business Vision
1. We like business
We like business. We believe business blesses the city by creating employment, providing services, generating tax revenue and resourcing mission. We want our network to have a culture in which business is affirmed and entrepreneurs are encouraged.
2. We like business people
We like business people. We want business people interested in Jesus to feel welcome and affirmed within our church communities. We want this to be reflected in our strategies, our application of the Bible, our prayers, the people we interview in meetings, what we celebrate and our talk illustrations. We do not want to warn against the dangers of wealth in a way that portrays business negatively, nor do we want to affirm the service professions in a way that business people find excluding.
3. Money is also mammon
We recognise that money is also mammon, a rival to God for our affections and a threat to our relationships. So we believe Christian business people need to be accountable to their church community for the way they generate wealth and the use to which they put it. We want people to be generous, avoiding excessive expenditure.
4. Free to rest
Work can be a way of finding worth, identity, fulfilment and security apart for God – an attitude that often leads to overwork. Our faith in Christ’s finished work of justification means we do not need to prove ourselves through work or business success. Our faith in God’s goodness means we do not need wealth to find fulfilment. Our faith in God’s fatherly care means we do not need to worry about our needs. So rest or sabbath is a sign and celebration of God’s provision.
5. Cultural profit
We believe the gospel shapes the methods of business. So we want a ‘cultural profit’ in which our products, our employment and management practices, the design of our premises, the conduct of our meetings all shape and renew the wider culture as well as pointing to the gospel message. Being in business gives us the opportunity to exercise authority in a way that reflects the liberating and life-enhancing rule of God. We will treat employees, customers and suppliers as partners. We will ensure our activities confirm with legal requirements and relevant codes of conducts. We will ensure our businesses bless the neighbourhood in which they operate and do not harm creation.
6. Gospel-shaped goals
We believe the gospel shapes the goal of business. Growing a business is not an end in itself, whether for power, prestige or prosperity. We believe Christian business people should commit their business to one or more of the following missional business models …
Missional Business Models
1. Lifestyle business
Developing a business to support a missional lifestyle. This might involve earning sufficient income in four days a week to release time for mission or working in a role that creates evangelistic opportunities.
2. Income generation
Developing a business to generate income to support church planting.
3. Economic and social renewal
Developing a business to bless the city by creating employment, providing services, generating tax revenue and facilitating the establishment of new companies.
All three of these models can be combined to some extent. But some people will opt for one instead of another. They may, for example, not invest as much time as they could to maximise income (model #2) so they have time for church planting (model #1).
Networking for Missional Business
The following are ideas for supporting the establishment and development of businesses within a church network.
1. A mentoring scheme
linking new entrepreneurs with experienced business people to help develop business plans, access resources, generate ideas and solve issues
2. A business club
business people meeting regularly for peer support and gospel accountability
linking investors with missional business opportunities
4. An investment fund
pooling savings to create an investment fund for missional businesses around the world
5. A holding company
creating a central company to create economies of scale for administration and legal compliance
6. A skills bank
providing free or low-cost start-up support (accountancy, business advise, design) plus a database of government and other resources for new businesses
providing training in the vision and practice of missional business