A blog by Christian about his time at the BAM conference.
Do you know the first time in scripture the phrase “filled with the Spirit of God” is used (depending on your translation)? Exodus 31:3. God fills Bezalel with His Spirit … in order to work. God’s Spirit is connected with our work.
A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Business as Mission Conference in Philadelphia. The theme intrigued me, as our new venture will be to create a for-profit business in Ethiopia. I wanted to learn how business can be used as mission, and there was a lot to learn.
Many times, and this has been true in my life, the church has distinguished itself from business. Business is about money, and church is about God. There is a sacred-secular divide. There is an unspoken idea that business owners are *only* about making money. It’s about the bottom line. Business can’t ignore the bottom line of profit, but it can expand and have more than 1 bottom line. In fact, they have 4.
Profit. Obviously, if the company isn’t making a profit, it’s going to fail. Profit is important. It’s good even. But it’s not singular. Making money just for the sake of making money isn’t our God-given purpose.
People. A Business as mission cares about it’s people. Suppliers, employees, customers, and government officials. We ask ourselves, “Do I love my team/suppliers/customers/regulators as I love myself?” Business that ignores people and society is not doing mission.
Planet. We are called to be stewards of the Earth. We’re called to subdue it, not destroy it. Yes, we are supposed to use the things of the planet for our benefit, but not *solely* for our benefit. A business that destroys the planet is not glorifying God.
Eternal Purpose. This is the spiritual aspect. We need to be investing Spiritual Capital in people. We need to demonstrate a true relationship with Jesus and pray to the God of the harvest.
There were a few speakers that really stood out to me. One is a businessman in China. He has been working there for over 30 years, and has a manufacturing company brining in over $1 million every month. He also hires disabled people as a significant percentage of his workforce. He prays over his equipment and staff daily. He’s focused not just on revenue and profit, but also on the wellbeing of his people and their spiritual welfare.
We also heard from Shane Claiborne, who ministers in inner-city Philadelphia. He encouraged us to care about the poor. He shared stories of how they’ve ministered in their community with urban farming, providing low-cost housing, and non-violent activism.
Every speaker had great insights, from how we are seeing the lowest level of worldwide poverty ever in history, how we are combating human trafficking (a 32 Billion dollar “industry”), and how the church’s job is shalom – the flourishing of creation.
It was a great experience, and I’m glad I went. I was left with a few nuggets that I keep mulling over:
What will I personally do with my economic, social, and spiritual “capital”? Where will I invest it?
Remember that Jesus’ yoke is easy: the closer we are to Him, the easier the load for us.
I’m reminded of a comment from my missionary friend, who wasn’t at the conference: “Business can never be mission unless work is worship.”
Let’s remember that whatever we do today, we do it for His Glory.
A few pictures…