Even today, there are many groups hidden from the gospel because of barriers of culture and language; not only in Africa, Asia and the Americas, but also within immigrant communities here in the UK and across Europe. We are talking of over two billion people. Two billion who will only know of the hope of Jesus after it's too late and they meet him face-to-face.
One of the key distinctives of Mission through Business is to promote a gospel intentionality for business people working to see churches established amongst these groups and lives transformed by Jesus Christ.
But how can we be intentional, and see communities of believers form, as we do business? Doesn't business take so much energy that there is no time to disciple or church-plant?
We believe it is entirely possible to run a good businesses AND take opportunity to talk of Christ and disciple new believers as Jesus' church is grown. If the vision is well thought through, a business provides meaningful context to share our lives and opportunity to engage with the community in a readily understandable way.
A CEO of a language school takes an integrated approach to engage with the Muslim communities he worked among in Asia. On first contact with someone, he introduces himself as an "integrated entrepreneur who wants to bring Godly values into the business arena."
God is on the table from the start and this often leads to further conversation.
All the business policies are aimed at relating to families in the community. For example, he has a practice of meeting with the families of prospective employees during the interview process, telling them "I want your family to know us, to know we have your best interests at heart and will honour you, because God loves families."
The phrase "because God loves families" gives a simple, appropriate way to reveal the business-person as a spiritual person. It opens the door to deeper spiritual conversations.
Beyond individual relationships and disciple-making, a team approach may be wise for larger scale church planting. This team may work in the business between half and full-time, giving them time to build a wider set of relationships in the community, and run Bible studies that result from the business-facilitated engagement with the community. [Ed: We're not saying this is a "one-size-fits-all" model for integrated business ministry]
This CEO has found that if the business and the church planting effort are integrated, then the business entrepreneur can be intentional about spiritual matters. The key is integration, leading to authentic identity.
Part 2 of this blog will be posted next week with more examples of mission through business...
JM Bell is a pseudonym. He works at Frontiers: www.frontiers.org.uk. He has a passion to see all fulfil their part in God’s global plans. He has worked in the Middle East, West Africa and cities in the UK.