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When It Comes to Faith and Work, are We Asking the Right Question?

by | Jan 27, 2022 | Articles, Faith and Work, Resources

vI just returned from an exciting meeting on the West Coast. For the average Midwesterner, a January trip to any warmer climate is always a bonus, but it was the topic of discussion that energized me the most.

A local pastor and a group of businessmen from his church heard about our business-funding-missions model here at CRF and The Stone Table and asked if we would brainstorm with them on how they might start something similar. There was a lot of “divine-serendipity” in our company’s genesis story that may or may not be replicable 30 years later. It’s a starkly different economic and cultural moment. But it’s not the mechanics of the question that intrigued me, it’s the underlying nature of the question itself.

How can we create a business for the express purpose of proclaiming the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth?

A lot of what I see in the “faith and work” movement today is so beautiful and good. There is a renewed energy in the Church to engage the marketplace as a vital part of God’s Kingdom plan in this world. But when it comes to entrepreneurship and business leadership, here is the primary question I usually hear:

How do I operate my business by biblical principles?

 

This is a good question. A right-hearted question. How does the “Good-Book” say I should run my operations? How should Jesus’ teaching on the Golden Rule, Proverbs warnings about greed, or Paul’s instructions about sowing and reaping impact my business model, policies, and procedures?

But for me, this question is a supplement to a much more important conversation. It’s a good “sub-question,” but it’s not the question. It frames the Scriptures primarily as an instruction manual – a handbook of good spiritual, and in this case, business advice. And while that’s not untrue, it is so much greater than that.

The Bible is not a book of God’s how-to’s and life-hacks, the Bible is primarily a story – it’s The Story – the Great Story in which all other stories find their purpose and meaning. How do I operate my business by biblical principles is certainly an important and noble question to ask, but I believe this is a better one:

How does my business serve God’s greater mission in this world?

This question actually turns the conversation on its head. It flips the script entirely. Instead of asking how I can integrate God’s operating system into my business, it integrates my business into God’s ultimate objective. And what is that objective? His glory among every nation, tribe, and tongue. This is the overarching “vocation” of every follower of Jesus.

 

Whatever your business model might be, how can you more effectively operate by biblical principles? That’s a good question.

How does your business propel the plotline of God’s Great Story? How does your business honor God, serve people, and proclaim the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth? Those are better questions.

That’s why I loved our West Coast meeting last week. These men and women aren’t just asking how they can bring God into their business story, they’re asking how they can create a business that advances God’s Great Story. And that changes everything.

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.

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