Missional Business

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

3. Investment
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

7. Training
providing training in the vision and practice of missional business

11 thoughts on “Missional Business

  1. Hi Tim

    some great thoughts here!

    As an accidental businessman I would add another category – ‘business AS mission’.

    While I am sure Paul used his tentmaking to fund other ventures, I would also suggest he saw it as a valuable mission in itself.

    I only discovered by accident how to be a business person, but as someone who feels primarily called to be a missionary I have been amazed at how many people my business puts me in touch with and how it increases the size of my local network.

    I also have a ‘widows and orphans’ policy where (if I choose to/feel it appropriate ) I will do my work for free or at a greatly discounted rate.

    Appreciate the thougths

  2. Pingback: Missional Business « Tim Chester « BJ9 Blog

  3. Hi Hamo, our ‘lifestyle business’ includes ‘working in a role that creates evangelistic opportunities’. Maybe we should rename it ‘missional lifestyle business’ – I kind of took the missional element as read. And you orphans and widows policy would definitely come under our economic and social renewal model. Tim

  4. Having worked for a ‘missional business,’ I would echo your thoughts about living and conducting ourselves in a way that points to the gospel message. Through my five years in missional business, I’ve found that the greatest challenge is within the business’ team-to display Christ’s character to one another (namely, humility), and to admit fault when its ours.

    Too often, even with the best of intentions, businesses can take on the cut throat or simply competitive nature of the world and before you know it, your business is working to spread a gospel that’s not practiced within office walls.

    Great post. Love the detail and framework you’ve provided here.

  5. Tim, I’ve been interested in the tent-making model for a while. I’m in a secular graduate program now preparing to be an English teacher. I’ve been through seminary and worked on the field vocationally as a missionary, but I feel like God is leading me to serve the church in an international setting without being a financial burden to it. I’m not a blogger…I was directed to this post by one of your readers. I appreciate your thoughts. I’m still in a traditional-minded church, and any mention of tent-making provokes much awkward silence and confused looks.

  6. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your post. Very helpful as ever. This is a much under-discussed area of life in the church. It was only a few years ago when I had the opportunity to visit some missionaries in ‘creative access countries’ that I realised that entrepreneurial type skills could be used for the gospel.

    Whilst I don’t think that more/better teaching on the workplace would have made a difference to where I am now (in pastoral ministry), it would have been interesting to think more about serving the Lord in the context of my ‘secular’ work. I hope that Christians will become increasingly good at thinking these things through properly…

  7. Hi Tim! Really helpful post here.

    Trying to figure out how to phrase this question…In your conversations did you discuss anything about the products or goods being produced by these businesses in relation to the gospel mission?

    In my experience, often when missional business is discussed the focus tends to be on how go about your work so as to create evangelistic encounters (your lifestyle evangelism), or what to do with the money (Income generation for church planting), or on serving and loving your neighbor (Economic and social renewal). (I’m not trying to be clever, just that you have very succinctly covered everything.)

    Is there anything inherent to a piece of art (if you’re an artist) or a bridge (if you’re an engineer) or a law (if you are a politician) that we should think about? Are there any specific questions we should ask ourselves in relation to the gospel when it comes to the actual work we are doing? Maybe not, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts on that. I don’t, but I feel like there ought to be.

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