I have personally engaged in a number of attempts to connect the field of business with the redemptive mission of Christ. The typical evangelical approach to applying one’s faith to vocational activity is admittedly facile. It primarily emphasizes personal piety and evangelism within the workplace rather than a genuinely kingdom centered perspective regarding divine calling, or vocation. This approach is utterly inadequate in transforming culture or in effectively bearing witness to the in-breaking of God’s reign in Christ.

images What is needed is for men and women in the world of business to see their activity as a redemptive instrument in service of the kingdom. This is scarcely heard of in modern evangelicalism, much less encouraged. In fact, most churches and pastors have little or no idea how to actually do this in practice. Business leaders seem to threaten many pastors if the truth is known. This is why I find serious business leaders checking out on the local church again and again. They are not giving up on Christ and the kingdom, just on the way the church fails to engage with them in the context in which they are called to live as entrepreneurs and leaders. A lot of new, creative thinking and teaching is needed to help make this happen. This is why I thank God for the initiatives of many who do teach in this area.

What is required is a radically different business model that will take the kingdom seriously and then emphasize the faith element required to live humbly for Christ. This approach would very likely be seen as foolishness in the hard-hitting context of secular business. Christian business leaders—who have up to this point been largely dormant or misguided—need to become deeply involved in advancing Christ’s kingdom or one of our most important means for transformation will be lost.

My friend Michael Craven has written: “Given the influence upon our culture, if not the world, that American business wields; I could think of no greater need.” I agree, I can think of “no greater need,” at least in the everyday world of business and making money. When will the church get into the world of business and make disciples who can transform this sphere of human endeavor?

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  1. Dave S March 18, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Thank you for writing this! Through some upheaval caused as a direct result of obeying Christ, I have recently become self employed and God is graciously giving me a vision for what He would like to do with HIS business. I have made decisions that would seem foolish to business people. My marketing plan: prayer, And it works. Why? Because it’s God’s business, He cares for his children, and whether the business thrives or folds is in His hands – my job is to not worry, obey, and always be thinking about what HIS agenda might be instead of the typical business agenda. Through my business I am meeting a number of men, especially, who desperately need the hope of the gospel, some of whom say they believe the gospel, and the church is so out of touch with where they are the church (little c) cannot reach them. But another human being demonstrating love and service, speaking boldly and honestly, listening to the Spirit, CAN. I am learning that God can have bigger visions for our role in the marketplace than “just be ethical, hope people get the gospel by osmosis”. I am finding that in my business as I seek first His kingdom interests HE is fully capable of taking care of ‘all these things’. It’s high time church leadership learned to be more kingdom minded. Churches today would never allow a Daniel to be so involved in the world and not suck his life-blood to grease the wheels of the church-machine. It’s unfortunate, because God used Daniel in unique and profound ways, and I think there are a lot of “Daniels” out there who need to feel the freedom from their churches to pursue the plan that God has put in front of them and just watch Him work. Sorry for the rant.
    P.S. I met you at a Men’s retreat in northern CA several years ago. Long after heard much criticism about you “becoming Catholic -almost”. Good to see God’s hand on your life, and that He has given you the grace to follow His call even if it doesn’t fit the box of the reformed-evangelical mainstream (of which i am admittedly part). You are a brother, we are family, I love your heart and ministry and think God’s heart beats the same for His Church. Thanks again

  2. John Armstrong March 18, 2011 at 7:16 am

    David, thank you my brother. Yes, I suppose I do not fit the box of the “reformed-evangelical mainstream” but then what gets called the “mainstream” is often the side stream of a rigidly conservative stance that refuses to embrace divine mystery and living hope in places that are not comfortable according to their own opinions. I am not trying to offend anyone but I know that my journey is one that can be easily attacked as out of bounds to some. My goal is to listen better, learn all I can and love those who love Christ. I fail but I press on knowing He is merciful every new day.

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