Christians starting businesses for the glory of God.

What is a Kingdom Business? Why Start One?

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How to Start a Kingdom Business (Pt. 1)

 

Over the past 25 years I have had the privilege to work with a wonderful network of brothers and sisters in the Business as Mission movement. For a major part of that time I worked with the Jholdas Project–a small business incubator focused on establishing persecuted believers in business so they can support their families, their struggling local churches and, ultimately, indigenous mission work. To date we have seen over 1,300 businesses started and approximately 500 churches planted as a result–primarily among the unreached people groups of the world. Along the way, we have learned a few things about starting a Kingdom Business that we will share over the coming weeks in this blog series and ebook.

 

Definitions

What exactly are we talking about? Business as Mission (BAM) is the natural extension of my commitment to Christ in the sphere of life to which He has called me. It may be in my home country or it may be in another country. The simple reality is that business is a fully legitimate calling and the disciple is meant to enter into that calling with headlong, joyful abandon and focused on living for Jesus in that context.

However, there is another vital dimension to BAM. My career or my business or my startup needs to be deliberately, thoughtfully connected to God’s purpose in the world. In my opinion, it is this characteristic that is the sine qua non (absolute essential) of Business as Mission. A quick survey of Scripture will lead you to conclude that God was, is and always will be focused on filling up this earth with people who know, honor and love Him. So the question comes: how is my business intentionally connected to that?

And, finally, a Kingdom Business is one that seeks to operate on principles and values drawn from and consistent with the revelation of God’s Word. There is far more in Scripture about work and the marketplace than we have ever imagined. We must learn to dig it out and apply it fearlessly in our companies for the glory of God.

 

Motivations

Simon Sinek recently published a book entitled Start with Why. It’s an excellent read and there is also a TedTalk on the subject entitled How great leaders inspire action. It’s all about core motivations, reasons for action, and motivations. In the same way, the Kingdom Entrepreneur needs to think through the “why” of his or her business early in the launch process.

The late management guru, Peter Drucker, once said, “The purpose of all business is to make a profit.” I wholeheartedly agree and so does Scripture. As an institution of God (see Genesis 1), enterprise is purposed with creating the wealth necessary for the other institutions of society to function. Thus, no profit means no business; it doesn’t matter what you call it.

However, like every other institution, business has multiple levels of its core purpose. To create wealth, yes. To make a profit, yes. But there are many dimensions of wealth and profit beyond today’s fallen definition of “money only” or “shareholder value.” There is the benefit brought to a family, a community, or a nation through business done God’s way. There is an environmental responsibility borne by all humans and all businesses based upon the Creation Mandate:

Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food. And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-31, ESV)

And, most importantly, there is the doxological why. All things are designed and created for the glory and worship of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) Business is no exception.

 

Conclusion

So the starting point for Kingdom Business startups is the what and the why. We must be clear on these points or we shall forever be looking over our shoulders and living in “semi-apology” for our business and its success.

8 Comments

  1. Hoftman AG on October 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    The what and the why…

    Because “what„ this is all about, is definitely not just business—but the fulfillment of the Father’s answer to his Son’s prayer: “Your kingdom come.” where each of us gets the privilege to play a role, regardless of whether you are starting a bakery, an engineering firm, or a dental practice.

    So “what„ this is all about is the fulfillment of the Father’s answer to his Son’s prayer: “Your kingdom come.”

    The “why„ we are doing this, typically requires a lot of work, at straightening our motivations (specially if the leader is meant to be highly influential). We think we have the right motivation, mainly because we have extirpated selfish arguments from our discourse — but at the end of the day the greedy motivations are still there, and we have only incorporated the politically correct answer.

    This poses a huge impediment to start a Kingdom business, because the owner knows when people honors him with their lips, but their hearts are far away from him. Ever since he chose David as King of Israel he became famous for not looking at the outward appearance of people, but for his ability to look at the heart.

    So, let’s straighten our motivations!

    [anything that doesn’t make sense, please blame it on my iPhone’s auto correct function]

  2. Todd Johnson on October 30, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Timely as we move into this realm…

  3. Mike brady on October 31, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Michael and Hoftman,

    I so appreciate your perceptions.

    So let’s say I am a new Investment Banker and sense The Lord wanting me to reach other Investment Bankers in my realm of influence. Let’s say I deduce the best way to reach these Bankers is by not doing a deal with them, because if I enter a deal with them, I become a transaction and it kicks in their flesh. But now I am passing up profits and my business is just trying to get established. No worldly logic here.
    I have a dear friend that cuts off relationships because this will get him to his why, which is to build churches around the world through his what of developing real estate. But by seeing so clearly he has forgotten he is blind.
    Not doing a deal I could do because its just not quite right in The Lord is much more powerful to an unbeliever than doing the deal. It makes them go, “Huh? I don’t get it.”, which is where we all start(ed) to have the veil over our eyes lifted to see Christ Jesus.
    Keep up The God Work my brothers and sisters.

  4. Brett Holdeman on November 1, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Amen, brother Michael! If only all businessmen and -women conducted themselves and their business concerns in this way, we’d have one glorious, God-fearing and -worshiping country! Mercy Me, the Christian contemporary group, inspires me, as they realize the recession has strained the budgets of most households in the nation, and offer their CD’s at $5 apiece! Other groups, like Chris Tomlin’s, make their music freely available for church worship teams by making it public-domain, not worried about lucrative copyrights, but about His coming Kingdom, as it should always be! Great examples for all of us to emulate as we work to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, and jewels in our crowns (or treasures in Heaven, as the Lord Himself put it). Great article, Michael, and I look forward to the rest of the series!

  5. Chris Brooks on November 3, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    How would you differentiate launching a BAM business vs. working within a large Corporation using BAM principles?

    • Elijah Elkins on November 5, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      Great question Chris! I think an analogy would be helpful. Launching a BAM business is similar to Solomon building the Temple in the Old Testament according to God’s Word. The BAM entrepreneur launches a business according to God’s Word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit’s leading. There are of course other components to launching a business besides these only. Working within a large corporation using BAM principles is similar to Nehemiah and Joseph seeking the common good of the nations they were in while still seeking the good of their own people as well. The corporate professional seeks the good of their company, coworkers, customers, vendors, leadership, environment, and local community. Each have unique ways in which the LORD will use them to see “the Kingdom come” and His name glorified.

      • Hoftman on November 6, 2014 at 12:03 am

        Daniel & Co, in Babylon, another great example of working within a large corporation using BAM principles.

  6. Ssenkubuge Rouben on November 4, 2014 at 6:32 am

    @hofman,your right man,here in Uganda,our churches lack competence, they keep on fighting one another to save most especially with money generating ministry,it sad when one uses praise God,PRAISE GOD when his heart is far away.

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