Business as Mission
The Power of Business in the Kingdom of God
Michael R. Baer
YWAM Publishing, 2006, 156 pp., ISBN 978-1-57658-388-3
Mike Baer served in pastoral ministry for 15 years before moving to the field of business where he has founded several businesses, including a for-profit business advisory and strategic consulting firm that is his current company. In addition he is executive director of an international mission organization specializing in microenterprise business development operating in more than 17 countries.
Mike has an unusual combination of ministry and business skills that he has employed in both his own culture and other cultures. The book is a basic theology and rationale for business as mission. While he cites a number of cross-cultural examples, the book includes little about the special challenges of doing business or ministry in another culture.
A kingdom business or kingdom company means "a business that is specifically, consciously, clearly, and intentionally connected to the establishment of Christ's kingdom in this world. In other words, it is directly involved in making disciples of all nations--beginning at home but with international involvement too." (14)
Four characteristics of a kingdom business provide the outline for the book.
• vocational - a high and holy calling
• intentional - a discovered and executed purpose
• relational - a valued set of vital relationships, and
• operational - a demand for operational excellence.
God has a kingdom purpose for your business. Do you know what it is? (19)
"Whether they know we are Christians or not, people are touched by us in the context of relationship. And through a vast number of touches, they are influenced toward God or away from him. Therefore, a kingdom business places great emphasis on how it relates to people and is constantly taking stock of relationships--measuring them by Scripture." (20-1)
We begin all training with a one-day session on studying the biblical legitimacy of business. (27)
We have come to think that ministry is sacred but ordinary life is secular, the "sacred-secular dichotomy." But we must escape this prison and enter the freedom of life in Christ's kingdom. "All of life is sacred for the Christian, and the realization of that truth sets us free to serve God in all aspects of our existence." (37) "What were you made for? The answer is your calling." (38) "The call of God is an authoritative, divine invitation with a purpose." (39)
The purpose of business is commonly thought to be profit or customers. "According to Scripture, there is a purpose that is beyond profit and beyond customers. There is a kingdom purpose…." (46)
"If God's purposes give meaning to life, the obvious and most pressing quest of your life should be to discover his purpose for you. Why did he make you?" "Do you know what God's kingdom purpose is for your business?" (50) Discovering and implementing this purpose is the mark of a true disciple. (50)
"The knowledge of the will of God is given to those willing and ready to do it. There is a sequence: submission, then revelation; surrender, then clarity. You don't get to see first and then decide. (52)
God has one overarching purpose from the beginning, "to fill the earth with people who know and honor him." (58) The command in Matthew 28:19-20 is essentially the same as the mandate give to Adam, "populate the earth with God's worshipers." "Indeed, the Scriptures, rightly read, are totally consistent on this point. This is God's purpose--his kingdom purpose." (59)
According to Acts 1:8, the disciples were to "begin 'repopulating the earth' with worshipers where they were and from there to gradually move out in every-expanding circles of influence. The same is true for us--not necessarily geographically but practically." "We should grasp the principle of starting where we are and moving farther and deeper into connection with God's cosmic purpose." "The idea of kingdom impact begins with the question, 'What can I do for Christ's kingdom with what is immediately at hand?' and moves over time and maturity to the larger question, 'What can I do for Christ's kingdom in the world?' and ultimately to 'What can I do for Christ's kingdom among those who are unreached?'" (60)
"God is a God of relationship, and he has ordered his creation in such a way that above all things, relationships are of primary value and concern." (71) "The influence of the gospel does not come through organizations but comes through human interaction, through a people-to-people process." (73)
"One of the most exciting aspects of business leadership…is the amazing wealth of relationship…that corporate interaction provides." (75)
We can think of people in terms of a continuum from pre-kingdom to the final manifestation of the kingdom in its fullness. Our activities may thus be categorized as
• Pre-kingdom activities (establishing and developing relationships)
• Kingdom announcements (direct communication of the gospel, or evangelism)
• Kingdom orientation (immediate follow-up activities with new Christians)
• Kingdom realization and application (activities and disciplines leading to maturity)
• Kingdom manifestation (the activity of Christ to fully reveal his kingdom to the world in all of its glory) (78)
"Business is not charity; it is a means of provision through labor." "But the concept of provision is greater than just paying wages. It casts business owners in the role of stewards who are responsible for those placed in their care. Our employees are our responsibility under God, and as servant leaders, we should constantly be thinking of how we can care for them and for their needs." (Note Boaz and Ruth) (99)
"The development of employees, if undertaken in a caring and prayerful way, can be a prime fulfillment of Jesus' command to disciple the nations (see Matt. 28:19). This is one of the major purposes of a kingdom business." (103)
How can one become a servant leader? "I suggest the following questions as a means of self-examination. What is the attitude of my heart toward others? How do I think and feel about those I lead? What are my motivations in working as hard as I do or in demanding high levels of performance in others? What am I trying to achieve? What will I gain from all of this? Are others more important to me than I am to myself? Am I expecting others to work while I play? How do I keep score--through income and possessions or through impact on others?" (112)
"When a new leader comes into an organization, there are three questions the people ask. 'Does she know what she's doing? Can I trust her? Does she care about me as a person?'" (114)
"It matters how we run our businesses." "Our business affairs reflect our heart attitude toward God--and he cares." (120)
"Ethics is nothing more complicated than knowing the difference between what is right and what is wrong and then acting accordingly. Ethics is about truth and falsehood. Ethics is about justice and injustice. Ethics is about what is proper and improper. Ethics is about making decisions. Ethics is, as politically incorrect as this may be, morality." (129)
Phases of integration of faith and business:
• Separation - No connection. Faith and ministry in the church. Business provides a living.
• Invasion - Attempting to bring the light of Christ into the darkness of business. A forced kind of witness.
• Overlay - Add Christian terms, hire chaplains, provide generously for workers, and do good things to provide an attractive surface to a worldly business.
• Seamless integration - Integrity, oneness. "Every aspect of their lives--home, church, leisure, and business--is under the rule of God." "Life is a whole and is holistically submitted to God's authority." "All is sacred. All is ministry." (142)
* * * * * *
Your comments and book recommendations are welcome.
To discontinue receiving book notes, hit Reply and put Discontinue in the text.