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When Business Minds Develop Missionary Hearts

by | Feb 28, 2023 | Articles, Faith and Work, Missions, Resources

“Hey dad, I have a friend here at IU that wants to talk to you. He’s a business school student, but he is feeling a call to missions. Would you be willing to meet with him?”

Few things excite me more than a question like that!

My daughter is deeply involved with an amazing campus ministry called Chi Alpha at Indiana University. Chi Alpha is more than just a Christian social group, they disciple college students in profound and formative ways and help them reimagine their futures through the lens of the Gospel.

My daughter is a discipleship leader for Chi Alpha, and one of her fellow group leaders is more than just your average business student. He is finishing his final semester of the Kelley School of Business 3+2 program, achieving both his undergrad and MBA diplomas together in just 5 years. He is also a graduate assistant, mentoring and teaching over 100 other Kelley students, and already accepted a futures offer from a Big 4 accounting firm nearly 2 years before his graduation date. (Kelley just happens to be my alma mater as well, but this young man is in a stratosphere I never quite reached)!

But in recent months, the Lord started messing with his post-graduation plans. With his business career on the launchpad and the rocket boosters already beginning to fire, a call to global missions was keeping him up at night.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” he told me. “I’ve achieved every goal I’ve ever set for myself on this journey. I’m just months away from realizing everything I’ve worked for. I have all of these business skills. And now I’m wondering if I should postpone everything and at least take a year on the mission field. Am I crazy?”

I love these kinds of questions. If you’ve been around The Stone Table for any length of time, you know we believe marketplace skills are missionary skills. When we look at what God is doing around the world, when we analyze the places where the Gospel has not yet gone, we can’t get there with traditional ministry methods. Many of these places are hostile to the gospel. They don’t provide missionary visas. There aren’t Bible schools or churches to send missionaries to work.

The marketplace is our avenue. Business as Mission (BAM) is a huge need. But up until now, many BAM endeavors have been backfilled by more traditional missionary candidates. We see global workers with little or no marketplace experience forced into business contexts because that is what the field needs and requires.

But what if we begin instilling current business students with the gospel imagination to see the marketplace through the lens of the Great Commission? What if a new generation of business minds develop missionary hearts?

That’s why I love having conversations like the one I had with this Indiana University business student. Whether he spends a year or a lifetime on the field, he is paving the way for other marketplace Christians to connect the dots between business and the global glory of Jesus in the world.

Regardless of our age, career, and season if life, this is a connection that you and I need to make as well. Not every believer is going to live cross-culturally (I don’t), but every believer owns the Great Commission. Every one of us needs to wrestle with how we are owning Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations. Not just the bible school graduates and ministry employed believers. All of us.

Maybe you’re saying, “I just have a normal everyday job here in my local community, how do I connect my life to the Great Commission?” Here’s a few things I see in those who are wrestling well with that question:

  • A posture of humility, dependency, and trust. Great Commission Christians are willing to say, “Lord, I don’t know what it looks like for me, but I know you gave us a commission. Will you show me how I can support and fuel the global glory of Jesus with my role and my gifts? I don’t know how it all works, but I want to want what You want! Will you show me?”
  • A willingness to surrender their story into God’s Great Story. We are not main characters in a story we are writing about ourselves. We are beloved members of the support cast in a cosmic narrative the Creator has been writing since the beginning of time. It’s time to wrestle with how our self-written narratives fold into the Grand Narrative of God’s redemptive love for the world.
  • An ability to connect marketplace skills to the mission field. Ask God to show you how your everyday marketplace skills to make Jesus known where He is not yet know. Most marketplace believers feel an inherent disconnect between the skills they’ve learned and use in the marketplace and the skills they think are needed on the mission field. You can reconcile that dissonance. Those dots can actually be connected.

Marketplace skills are missionary skills. You’ll hear that a lot if you hang around The Stone Table for awhile. Jesus has miraculously offered salvation to all of us. It’s time we humbly surrender to be carriers of that Good News to the world He loves. Every single one of us.

Erik Cooper

After starting his career in the business world, Erik spent 12 years in full-time ministry, both on staff at a large suburban church and as a church planter in a downtown urban context. In addition to his role at The Stone Table, he also serves as the Vice President of Community Reinvestment Foundation, a nonprofit real estate company that provides high-quality affordable housing all over Indiana while investing its profits into missions through The Stone Table.

OUR MISSION
The Stone Table Exists to Mobilize Marketplace Believers for The Great Commission.

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We partner with global missions initiatives that focus on taking the Gospel to unreached places.

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The Stone Table exists to mobilize marketplace believers for the Great Commission.

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