Why Business as Mission?5 Ways That Weaving Entrepreneurship into Missions Helps Plant Churches and Multiply Disciples
Using ‘business as mission’ as a spark for church planting and disciple-making offers a path toward acceleration that bears more fruit than traditional methods of evangelism.
It’s not that other forms of evangelism don’t work, because in the end, it always comes down to forging quality relationships that allow people to see God’s power and love and discover their need for a Savior. It’s merely that other methods tend to be slower.
We have seen miraculous disciple-making movements develop in the last 20 years. People groups with no known believers among them have multiplied into the thousands in a matter of a few years.
One of the principles that accelerated these movements is to not provide outside paychecks to hire the local pastors and evangelists. Funding comes from within the movements themselves. Local business ownership empowers the local people and gives them freedom to be the Light in their communities with less dependence on outside support.
In contrast, it takes a long time for a team of missionaries to enter a new culture and try to share God’s love.
Instead, using business as mission means we begin by finding local Christians who have the right set of gifts that suit them for entrepreneurship. Then, we train them and help them start businesses in their communities, and use those to power the local church plant.
Here are 5 ways that integrating business with missions helps accelerate church planting, starts a disciple-making movement, and deepens the roots of the local congregations that result.
1. Business Owners Have Greater Influence in Community
Influence manifests in three ways:
Visibility and Respect
Businesses are visible. They produce goods and services that benefit the community. As a result, a business owner can quickly attain great respect and influence. A typical missionary would need to spend months, sometimes years building up a comparable level of influence.
But a successful business doesn’t take long to get noticed. And this connects the business owner to people’s lives in a positive way, which they can use for all sorts of good purposes, including evangelism.
The business itself also becomes part of their witness, because it is an extension of their personal character and moral beliefs. As a business owner, your faith and the Bible guide you in running your business, and people will notice the difference.
Especially in countries with high levels of corruption and dishonesty, a Christian-run business that refuses to abide by immoral practices will stand out almost immediately. Sometimes, this can even lead them to be persecuted. But the community will see this, and persecution almost always leads to greater revival.
Also, money is secondary to Lordship. You cannot serve God and money. So a business owner who does not put profits as their number one goal will operate differently.
Leadership of Employees
Finally, businesses hire people. This not only grows the local economy, which is good for everyone, but it gives the business owner influence over those employees as well as their families and friends. When a person gets a job at a business like this, everything that happens at their work filters down to the people in their lives. The stories will spread.
2. Business As Purpose
“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” – I Cor 12:12
So often we talk about how God gives everyone a purpose. I Corinthians 12 elaborates on this idea in great detail, using the human body as analogy. The idea is, each member of the church body has a critical role that is different from the others, and all of them are vital to its health and growth.
Not everyone can be a pastor, evangelist, teacher, or prophet. As Ephesians 4 says, those roles are meant for the equipping of the saints to go out and grow the church. Did you know that? The pastor doesn’t grow the church. The members do. That’s how God designed his church to function.
So, the business owner is one such member – a vital one. IBAM seeks to equip entrepreneurs to be a witness for Jesus through their business. This leads to accelerated church growth.
3. Business Owners Give Finances to Church
Did you know that even Jesus received financial support for his ministry? Luke 8:1-3 mentions that “many others” in addition to Joanna and Susanna were giving out of their private finances.
Think about that.
Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and relied on human financial support to provide food and other basic needs for him and his disciples.
The church doesn’t happen without money. Someone has to put food on the table, provide for the ministers, and keep the lights on. Business owners who are able to build and run successful businesses become consistent and reliable sources of financial support for the church. They become rocks and pillars.
4. Business Owners Increase Stability of Church
When building a church, nothing is more disheartening than to keep losing your strongest members. It’s even more discouraging when the reason this happens is because they have to move to another part of the country just to find a job. It seems like a preventable problem. But how? This happens all too often in many of the nations where iBAM operates.
There just aren’t enough stable jobs.
But when successful businesses are run by members of the church, do you see what a game changer this is?
Not only will the business produce financial stability for the church, but the business owner is there to stay. And through their business, they can make disciples in the community and even among their own employees, who will also have stable jobs and have no need to move for work.
The result is, you get more people following Jesus who also have stable employment and money to give. And those people become fixtures in the community. They don’t need to uproot themselves from the church they love and helped grow, just to go find a job.
Thriving local businesses lead to thriving local churches.
5. Work Has Been Part of God’s Plan Since the Beginning
The last reason business as mission works so well for church planting and discipleship is because that’s how God designed his creation. Almost every major theological doctrine can be traced back to the first three chapters of Genesis. The theology of work is no exception.
Tim Keller wrote a book on this subject called Every Good Endeavor.
One of Keller’s main points is that when God told us to ‘subdue the earth’ – a command given before sin had entered creation – it was along the same line of thinking as when he told Adam to ‘work and keep’ the Garden of Eden.
God gave us a raw, wild, untamed world and wanted us to work to improve it. Bring disorder to order. Increase its productivity. Use its potential to create better lives for people.
After sin entered the picture, this mandate didn’t change. In fact, the need for godly work actually increased, because now there are many more ways the world is broken, and nearly every vocation does something to help restore that brokenness.
Business ownership fits into this narrative. Businesses take broken systems where people’s needs aren’t being met, and help meet them. Businesses make communities stronger. When a person is running for their life, or starving, it’s pretty hard to get them to sit down and look at a devotional or read some Bible verses, let alone commit to joining a church and becoming part of a disciple-making movement.
IBAM uses business as mission because businesses make communities stronger, make churches stronger, and give people purpose and vision for their lives.
Is it a coincidence that the most stable, influential, and glorious periods in Israel’s history – when they had godly kings like David and Solomon and Hezekiah – were also the most economically prosperous?
Economic health at the local level – one family at a time – is critical if we want to plant churches that plant churches that plant churches. And creating local business entrepreneurship is how IBAM makes that happen, driven by the power and love of God.
Become Part of the Disciple-Making Movement
If what you’ve just read has lit a fire in you, and if the connection between business, church growth, and disciple-making has excited your faith, then join our movement and use whatever you have to make an impact in the nations for God’s Kingdom.