At Work

Is All Business Kingdom Business?

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The week is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Yet, many Christians often feel Sunday is disconnected from the realities of Monday through Saturday.

This is especially true when it comes to the integration of faith and business. Whether you are in the coffee business or clothing business, every Christian is in the kingdom business.

The challenge of integrating faith and work is especially challenging for business owners.

Businesses are usually focused on one outcome: financial. Shark Tank is a television show featuring people with business ideas seeking investment. In a typical episode, investors are focused solely on the prospect of financial outcomes.

Financial outcomes are important. You can’t run a business without profit. Yet, what if you had a business idea that was focused on important outcomes in addition to money?

Social entrepreneurship is a growing sector. It focuses on for-profit business models that make money and also have some other impact on society.

Christian-led businesses keep multiple outcomes in view. At bare minimum, the goal of a Christian-led business is to create profit AND glorify God in doing so.

A growing number of Christian-led businesses are trying to integrate their faith into the business model in more creative ways.

  • On October 29, the Brock School of Business at Samford University in Birmingham is hosting The Lion’s Den, a “shark tank” event engineered by Cedarworks, Inc., where aspiring entrepreneurs present multi-impact business ideas to a panel of successful business leaders. These entrepreneurs are trying to build a business with a financial as well as a spiritual bottom line.
  • Thrive Farmers is an example of a business focused on other outcomes in addition to money. Thrive looked at the traditional process by which coffee beans went from farmers to brewers. They became convinced that the most important person in the supply chain was being taken for granted: the farmer. As a result, they created a farm-to-brewer coffee supply business that shortens the supply chain between farmers and brewers. By doing so, it increases the profits of the farmers and gives them more ownership throughout the process. They recently became the exclusive coffee provider for Chick-fil-A.

Every Christian-led business will look different. For every Christian, all our business is kingdom business, whether we simply integrate the values of Christ’s kingdom into our corporate culture or try to use business as a means of advancing the presence of the kingdom in various parts of the world.

Business is the next frontier of missions. What could it look like to conduct business as missions?

  • Christian-led businesses can have a presence in a place around the world where Christian activity might otherwise be restricted.
  • Christian-led businesses, like Thrive Farmers, can reflect the values of the kingdom in their business model, rewarding people in the supply chain who are usually overlooked.
  • Christian-led businesses generate wealth to support the mission of the church, especially in under-resourced areas of the world.
  • Every Christian-led business enables people to use their God-given gifts to provide for themselves and their families.

We have nurtured a dichotomy between faith and work for too long. Business is not the only frontier for missions, but it has certainly been a neglected one.

Through books, networks, and organizations, the movement is growing and gaining influence. We need to create businesses and conduct our business in such a way that acknowledges that the whole week belongs to the Lord.

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  • Andy, I so appreciate this perspective. Its right on. However, I feel that you may have left out one critical component of the value of kingdom-oriented business. When a Christian creates productive work with Christ at the center, as an act of worship, the result, a finished good or service, (assuming the products are sinful in some capacity) is inherently valuable, possessing spiritual significance? I’m not debating the market-oriented value of goods and services, but in God’s Kingdom economy, it is valued no? This critical perspective is the fault-line of the secular / sacred divide that has marginalized the spiritually important work of “lay people”. We ALL have the opportunity to join God in his redemptive work in creation, stewarding our time, talents and treasures and leveraging them for kingdom purposes. That means that the venture capitalist and the stay at home mom have infinitely valuable work to do… I’m going to get back to mine. Thanks again Andy, good words. Peace.

    • Andy Jones

      Hey Joel, thanks for reading and commenting. I agree with you. I tried to address that in the last bullet point but perhaps my point wasn’t strong enough. I wrote, “Every Christian-led business enables people to use their God-given gifts to provide for themselves and their families.” My hope in that sentence was to make the point you emphasized. I may have fallen short. Thanks again.

  • Andy, good info. However, I’m a little displeased with your one bullet:

    Christian-led businesses generate wealth to support the mission of the church, especially in under-resourced areas of the world.”
    As we are ALL in full-time ministry, your comment has the same “church over business” attitude that I see in churches that I visit when in fact it should be “church alongside business” attitude.

    Finally, business IS being social, so how can we say that “social entrepreneurship” is the NEW business. It’s one in the same in real terms. You can find that in the 10th Commandment: “Thou shall not covet….anything of your neighbors.” That implies being social.

    Keep it up, we have a lot of work to do.

    In His Business,

    Kevin

  • Conanjay Wallace

    Andy, thank you so much for sharing this much needed insight into the Kingdom Business Model. I also want to congratulate you on being so lucid on how it could be when running a business as a mission.

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