When approaching the topic of ministry in the context of business we must first discuss what ministry is. In Christian circles, the term ‘ministry’ is often associated with either specific roles or actions. The office of ‘the ministry’ includes the roles of preacher, pastor, evangelist, etc. (see Ephesians 4:11-13) who perform the spiritual activities of preaching, counseling, teaching, and more. On the other hand, the action of ministry is much broader, doing-oriented, and characterized by serving others in ways that advance the kingdom. In fact, one of the objectives of ‘the ministry’ is to equip saints to do the ‘work of ministry’ empowering them to serve in both spiritual and temporal ways.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[a] and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of ChristEphesians 4:11-12 ESV
Thankfully, being involved in ministry is not limited to being a pastor or preacher. Far from it! When Christians engage in Business As Mission (more info below) they are in effect doing ministry in the context of business. The point here is not to diminish the value or importance of the office of the ministry, but rather, to demonstrate the ministry aspects of business as well as the opportunity Christian entrepreneurs and business leaders have to participate in ministry through the avenue of business.
The following areas will be discussed in this article:
- Business Is Defined By Service
- Ministry Is Defined By Services
- Spiritual And Temporal Ministry Working Together
- Business As Mission
Business Is Defined By Service
First, let’s explain what business is. In essence, the root of most business activity is focused on serving other people. Economic transactions take place when a customer pays for a product or the performance of a specific service. That is considered a business transaction. Fundamentally though, the transaction was based on the service provided and the associated value attached to the exchange.
In the book, The Go-Giver, the author states the Law of Compensation this way:
Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.The Go-Giver | Bob Burg
This is an excellent picture of what true business is all about. The job of an entrepreneur is to find an area where he or she can profitably serve the market. While there are many nuanced definitions of what business is, this is the core of what business activity is based upon.
Ministry Is Defined By Service
Similarly, the act of ministering to others is characterized by service and/or edification. Every area of Christian ministry involves serving others. This could be as simple as serving others a meal or it could be the teaching and preaching of God’s word to enrich others’ spiritual lives.
The phrase ‘to minister’ means to attend to the needs of others. Thus, in its simplest form, ministering to others is serving them in such a way that it meets their needs. While this is true in a spiritual context it is true in a natural context as well.
Spiritual And Temporal Ministry Working Together
One vivid example that showcases the importance of both types of ministry operating effectively together is found in the book of Acts:
“So the Twelve called the disciples together and said, “It is not appropriate for us to neglect [teaching] the word of God in order to serve tables and manage the distribution of food. Therefore, brothers, choose from among you seven men with good reputations [men of godly character and moral integrity], full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will [continue to] devote ourselves [steadfastly] to prayer and to the ministry of the word.””Acts 6:2-4 AMP
Here we see that the apostles’ ability to minister the word was being curtailed by the pressing need of serving food to needy members of the congregation. However, in order for the more spiritual areas of ministry to be effective someone had to embrace the temporal ministry of serving tables. This demonstrates the necessity for spiritual and temporal areas of ministerial service to work together to effectively advance God’s kingdom.
Business As Mission (BAM)
Simply put, Business As Mission is achieved when business activities are done from a Christian perspective and leveraged to advance kingdom initiatives. Stated in another way, BAM is serving the needs of the Kingdom in the context of business. In both of these ways, it is possible to positively impact God’s kingdom through the avenue of business.
How you serve others in business can positively (or negatively) impact the reflection of Christ that others see through your actions. When a Christian goes to work, their Christian values and Biblical approach should go with them. By doing business the Bible way and letting your Christian character and values shine brightly while ‘on the job’ you are in essence showing others what it means to be a Christian outside of church. This is a powerful witness and has the opportunity to win people to God that might never would have otherwise been won by simply inviting them to church.
Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.Colossians 3:22-24
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.Matthew 5:16
Secondly, Business As Mission seeks to use business means to augment kingdom efforts. While the mission of the kingdom is primarily spiritual in nature there is certainly a temporal component as well. The business of spreading the gospel requires natural resources and methods in order to achieve spiritual results. For example, a missionary often needs transportation, a place to live, a place to gather together, food to eat, copies of the Bible translated into the local language, and much more! Every one of those requires financial resources.
If the missionary had to spend 90% of his or her time gathering resources and only 10% of their time on their primary objective of reaching the lost, they would be highly ineffective. However, if Christians who operate in the area of business have the ability and willingness to finically support the work of the missionary, they can greatly augment his efforts by simply attending to the missionary’s temporal needs and free up his ability to focus on spiritual areas of ministry.
Similarly, individuals can use their ‘business skills’ to advance the kingdom as well. This could be a business that caters to churches and missional organizations or an individual could volunteer their expertise to help their local congregation. Both of these methods are very helpful in aiding missional efforts.
Examples of this could be accounting skills used to keep church books, construction experience used to help build a new sanctuary, or a graphics designer creating social graphics for the Church’s social media accounts. Just like the example in Acts 6 above, assisting in temporal areas that free up the availability of ministers to pursue spiritual areas of ministry is incredibly important to the furtherance of the gospel.
As Christians, we are called to be like Jesus. Being like Christ requires following in His footsteps. This means every Christian is called to minister to the needs of others as He did.
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.Matthew 20:28 KJV
Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.Matthew 20:28 ESV
As we serve others in the context of business from a Christian perspective, doing business the Bible way, we are living the Gospel in front of others on a daily basis. As we use our business skills, finances, and opportunities to bless the kingdom we are directly furthering the mission of God. This is a powerful revelation for Christians to embrace since anyone can participate in Business As Mission.
Ultimately, the ministry aspects of business involve living Business As Mission. When our business pursuits are kingdom-focused, our vocational efforts become connected to eternal purpose for the glory of God! For more information on Business As Mission check out our article on that topic here, listen to our podcast about The Virtue of Business, or check out the Business As Mission website here.