Written by Warwick Alcock, Director of Strategic Operations
According to LifeWay Research, the church in America is in serious decline, succumbing, it would seem, to a rapidly changing secular culture. Current projections show that by 2025, weekly attendance at church worship services will be less than half what it is today (from Transformational Church by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer). Fortunately, not all churches are in decline. The few that major on preaching, teaching and living out God’s Word are flourishing. Nevertheless, the overall picture is disturbing.
However, God is in the business of revival. And He works in remarkably creative and innovative ways. Jesus promises that the gates of hell cannot prevail against His church (Mt 16.18). So while traditional churches are in decline in the Western world, we believe God has already been calling Christians in business to play a pivotal role in a vast movement that is spreading the gospel far and wide amongst unreached people, providing jobs where there is unemployment, transforming society locally and abroad, and changing the world. Sound far fetched?
As recently as 2000 — just 16 years ago — few people understood the concept of ‘business as mission’. As Mats Tunehag, a Swedish business-as-mission veteran puts it, today you can travel to almost any country and find people talking about or practicing business as mission. Business-as-mission is now an important part of the Lausanne Movement, just one of many entities helping to bring about an unprecedented connection of business-as-mission minded people from around the world.
For example, one Atlanta-based group works alongside local churches in third and fourth world countries to train, fund, and coach entrepreneurs, each year coordinating over 100 volunteers with business experience to teach and coach micro-business start-ups in places like Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Nepal, Bulgaria, India, and Russia. Through this group alone, over 600 businesses have been started — and the gospel sown — among some of the poorest populations on earth.
In similar manner, business owners, professionals, employees, service providers, mission agencies, churches, academics — people across all industries, from all walks of life and denominational backgrounds — are connecting into this global movement. People are working together, partnering, finding synergy, and living out the Bible’s “one another” principles. Taken together they’re having a significant gospel impact. We are witnessing a revolutionary global change — this just within the last 16 years!
So how did business-as-mission come about? For generations, the sacred-secular divide has been deeply entrenched in our churches and in our thinking. Business was thought of as a necessary evil in a fallen world, in opposition to the purposes of God. One pastor-turned business-as-mission advocate, Mike Baer, portrays the problem this way: people in business ‘dreamed of being freed from business to go into the ministry’, or saw business as ‘enemy territory to be invaded for Christ’. Others believed ‘Christian principles were too impractical to be workable in the real world’. None of this, if one looks at Paul as tent-maker or Lydia as seller of purple, is biblical. Unbiblical ideas about work and business fragment life and quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5.19). All this is now changing with a more biblical understanding of work and business.
Still, business as mission is not without its risks. Firstly, Christians in business must be clear about their first loyalty. Followers of Christ cannot be double minded, trying to serve both God and money (Mt 6.24). Secondly, how many ‘born again’ Christians understand the Great Commission? Just 19% according to George Barna in Evangelism That Works. Discipling in churches is often unfocused and haphazard. According to LifeWay Research and the Barna Organization, spiritual confusion amongst American Christians is pervasive, so there’s a real risk that what some have termed ‘folk Christianity’ can be spread rather than the authentic gospel.
For this reason Village Schools is absolutely committed to discipling people through God’s Word. God always draws us back to the truth that He has given us in His Word, and when He does that, revival is sure to follow. We see this time and time again as we study the history of God’s people in the Bible, as well as the history of revival right up to the present time. It’s a principle that we at Village Schools emphasize continuously. And when disciples fan into flame the gift of God (2 Tim 1.6) God’s people start to transform their communities, and together they can change the world. God’s power is God’s Word. It inevitably accomplishes God’s purposes (Is. 55.11). This is why discipling people through God’s Word is so crucial. This is where it starts. (See here our book review on transformational discipling.)
So Business as Mission is a new understanding, shaped by the Bible, that liberates the people of God from an unbiblical understanding of work and business. It involves affirming, equipping and deploying business people into service as they do business for the purposes of God’s Kingdom, the gospel, and the common good. It’s a global movement that, as one business-as-mission pioneer put it, has no central HQ, no single leader, no 0800 number. It’s happening before our eyes in our generation. God is at work. We’re part of His story. It’s thrilling to see!
Coming this Fall
As part of our Everyday Faith seminar series:
1. Business Owner Joe King of King Technology will be sharing his Business as Mission journey on Thursday, September 29 here at the Village Center, starting at 7.30 pm.
2. Calling all retirees! In October we will be offering a daytime Everyday Faith seminar, led by Jim Sandberg and others. It focuses on encouraging and supporting those who are about to retire from their formal careers, the retired, as well as those who are already re-fired! God has work for you!
3. Multiplying small groups. In November, Steve Mann will share about his expansive small group ministry in the workplace.
Contact us to find out more.
Phone: 952-540-9460 |Email firstname.lastname@example.org.