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Affluent Christian Investor | September 21, 2023

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Businesses Are The Horse, Ministries Are The Wagon

I attended a half-day seminar concerning generosity among generations within the church. One of the attendees was an associate pastor of a church near a high tech city which has become a pilgrimage for the startup industry. We shared what we do, and I mentioned I work in the Business As Mission (BAM) area and hope to inspire and aspire churches to embrace this issue.

“What is BAM?”

BAM stands for Business As Mission and the alternative terms such as Kingdom Companies, transformational business, Kingdom business, missional entrepreneurship, missional business or business for transformation to name a few. Alternatively, some businesses add “Ministries” to their business name to give it an “authentic” appeal to their higher calling. All of these entities, companies, or organizations focus on marketplace ministries. I asked how many in his congregation were business owners: about 30 percent, a higher percentage than most churches.

I asked him, “What happens to your donations if one of your business owners goes broke?

He knew right away and replied, “It would decrease.”

So far, so good. I asked if he taught about the issues the 30 percent of his congregation, his business owners, goes through? That a few of his sermons could be helpful not only to the business owners but to his whole congregation to understand marketplace ministries? That his entire church would now know that businesses were in the marketplace ministries to serve others for His Kingdom, not just to fund church programs? That Biblical content which encourages and allows a business to earn a living and create wealth also helps support his church? That most pastors spend at most two hours in front of business owners and CEOs of companies while they are in front of their employees, clients, and vendors about 40-60 hours a week?

He replied, “Easier said than done.” True, but it’s a conversation which needs to happen.

Too often when talking with the clergy about the Great Commission, they quote how “you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, even to the remotest part of the earth,” (Acts 1:8). Everyone talks about short term mission trips to our versions of our Samaria, most often to some third world country. However, it seems that the “holiness hierarchy” and the lust of satisfying the “greater good” of remotest parts has them ignore their own Jerusalem: Business owners, especially the solopreneurs, in their church.

Business owners (and those with jobs) are the horse, and the church and ministries are the wagons. A healthy horse can pull a big cart, but an unhealthy horse or a dead horse won’t pull the wagon. If a business goes under, the church and ministries lose funding. Not to mention that a more significant percentage of companies in America have under five employees, and those employees lose their jobs, too. Solopreneurs work alone and are mostly under the radar of their church and their pastor. What did Jesus talk about His one sheep?

Luke 15:4 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

While most understand the spiritual issues of the “one sheep,” the practical means being a “one sheep” solopreneur in your church, are you as their pastor and the rest of your church ignoring your “one sheep” solopreneur?

Tom Nelson, President of Made to Flourish, gets it. On this Faith Driven Entrepreneur podcast (starts at 3:50) he says from a theological conviction, “I was doing the majority/minority disparity. In other words, I was playing the majority time of my time as a pastor, sadly but true, equipping God’s people for the slimmest minority time of their life. My scorecard was really how well I did on Sunday, not how well my people did on Monday” [emphasis added].

He approached his church to change its culture. Their language had been unfaithful to the Biblical text and needed to change; they became language police for the betterment of the Kingdom. Their culture language previously was dichotomous, secular versus sacred, eternal versus temporal, material versus the spiritual. However, all that changed when they brought Monday through Saturday back into Sunday services in their church. Sermons, prayers, missions, and pastor prayers all changed. They began to celebrate, promote, and most importantly, equip others for their Monday through Saturday mission fields.

Once a month Nelson brings up to the front a marketplace congregant and ask them three questions about their calling (dentist, plumber, coffee barista, accountant, teacher, writer, singer, law enforcement, government worker, and others):

  1. Tell us what God has called you to do this time tomorrow?
  2. What are the joys and challenges of being a follower of Jesus where He has called you?
  3. How can we pray for you?

This changed how they commission people for the marketplace, not just those in the ministry or the typical mission fields. Now everyone who is embarking on a new career path gets commissioned which has a direct impact on their local community—their church’s Jerusalem.

Because of these changes, the WHOLE church gets to hear 12 different ways how each person’s current physical talents and spiritual gifts are put to use and what their struggles are in their marketplace ministries.

Marketplace Chaplains is one such organization which helps businesses. They provide a source of comfort for workers and employees through calls, visits, and discussions which may be out of the normal scope of a company to handle. They can provide more immediate responses to trauma which might negatively impact employees and business.

When you bring Monday into your Sunday services, especially the solopreneurs who work alone, they now will feel they are indeed a part of the church and are not the “one sheep,” not a “black sheep,” who is “lost” within their church. Including solopreneurs in your efforts your church now serves your Jerusalem. It translates theology into ergology, the study of the effect of work on mind and body and the Biblical views of work. Biblical roots convert into shoots and fruits into the marketplace, all for the glory of God.

When you bring Monday into Sunday, you’re faithful with being fruitful—our work matters not just my work matters. We’re made in the image of God, so we’re co-creators with Him, so let’s co-innovate with Him for the marketplace ministries. If you want to know more, let’s have coffee to discuss how God can make this happen.

This article originally appeared on Townhall Finance.


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