Two Books to Help you Break Down the Sacred-Secular Divide

The sacred-secular divide is one of the most serious barriers to business as mission engagement. It is the reason, given again and again, that business people do not feel affirmed in their call to business and do not realise the good their business could do.

Here are two books to help you, and the business people in your life, break down the sacred-secular divide.

Every Good Endeavour by Tim Keller

A Review by Dr. Steve Rundle

Book - Every Good EndeavourI’ve been doing lots of reading lately on the Theology of Work, and I’m discovering that most of the books cover pretty much the same ground. (That’s a polite way of saying they’re often boring.) So I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Tim Keller’s new book Every Good Endeavor. Yes, he covers some of the same territory as others – the intrinsic goodness of work, the Creation Mandate, the Doctrine of Vocation, etc. – especially in the first few chapters. But what made this book refreshingly original for me were his discussions about the impact of the Fall on our work, and about Common Grace. Obviously these aren’t new topics either, but he has a way of encouraging the reader even as he reminds them that (1) there is a certain inescapable futility and self-centeredness to our work, and (2) we should rejoice in the fact that God uses both Christians and non-Christians to fulfill his purposes. (Translation: Christians don’t have a monopoly on making contributions to the common good.) For those who want to read only one book about the Theology of Work, this one would be an excellent choice. It’s an easy read with lots of substance.

 

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How the Sacred-Secular Divide Influences Attitudes to Business in Asia and Australia

We asked people engaged with BAM around the world to share how they see the sacred-secular divide affecting thinking in the Church in their country – and how this influences engagement of Christians the business sphere.

Perspectives from Asia and Australia

Rod St.Hill – Australia

The sacred-secular divide is alive and well in Australia. A common complaint from Christians business people is, ‘My pastor does not understand me’. Pastors rarely visit their business people at their place of work. There is anecdotal evidence that perhaps 40% of Christians in business are not engaged in their local church because they don’t see church as being relevant to them. Christians in business often feel that the church has a somewhat cynical attitude toward them – ‘You make the profit and hand it over to the church’ as if that will somehow sanctify it. There are also Christians who show hardly any evidence of Christian belief in their business practices.

Yet all is not doom and gloom. There is growing interest in ministries such as Kingdom Investors, founded by businessman Dave Hodgson, who is encouraging business owners to be connected with, and supportive of, their local church and to infuse their businesses with Kingdom principles. Last February, the Global Marketplace Exchange, pioneered by Pastor Sean Morris and Peter Kentley was launched with a consultative meeting near Melbourne. Some 170 leaders from ten ‘domains’, including church and business, gathered to begin working together to transform our nation. In addition there are now at least four Christian university-level institutions that offer degrees that integrate faith and business. There is much to be done to break down the sacred-secular divide, but there are positive signs that God’s people are moving as they are in other nations. Read more

European Economic Summit Declaration

By Mats Tunehag

EES Declaration 2015How can we connect Sunday and Monday? How can our faith inform our actions in the marketplace? What are key building blocks in economics and business as we pursue a society built on justice and mercy?

These were key issues addressed by 175 people from 26 nations gathered at the European Economic Summit, EES, in Amsterdam in September 2014. Important observations and suggestions emerged through the pre-consultations, keynote addresses, small group discussions and prayer. These findings were summarized in the EES Declaration. Albeit a particular focus is on Europe, the lessons learned are valid and can be very valuable for other contexts as well. Read more

BAM Journeys: Three Practitioners Share How Their Thinking has Changed

We asked three BAM practitioner at different stages of their BAM journey to share how their thinking has changed enroute.

Carlos in West Africa

My wife and I initially came to West Africa as ‘traditional missionaries’. After 3 years of pastoring a church we came across some real challenges. The country where we live is 95% Muslim. Since we’ve been here, we have witnessed a number of evangelical churches being torched and ransacked. Muslim background believers (MBBs) have lost their jobs, their families and have even been physically abused because of their faith. That is not the only challenge, anyone that has spent any time in Africa will inevitably be confronted with the harsh realities of poverty. Jobs are already scarce for any African, let alone an MBB. Unfortunately, most churches are not setup to meet this need.

We started praying for another way to serve Jesus here. That is when the Lord put in our hearts to start a business. With a business we could provide jobs to MBBs and pre-believers, having contact with them eight to ten hours a day in a non-threatening environment. Read more

Lessons from the Edge: Balancing the Tensions

Insights from a BAM Practitioner

Tim has been in business in SE Asia for 18 years.

Keep both the big picture and the detailed picture in view
Don’t get so bogged down in the detail that you lose sight of the big picture and the rationale for what you are doing. Conversely, make sure you don’t spend all your time dreaming about vision and thus take your eye off the day to day operational details of the business. Keep a healthy tension between the two.

Have the bible in one hand and the balance sheet in the other
Knowledge of God’s ways in business is critical, but so is understanding the mechanics of business. Spend time getting skilled in the disciplines of business. As an entrepreneur you have to understand everything, even if you don’t do everything. Business has it’s own laws, don’t over-spiritualise them!

Keep lines of communication open and clear
Clear, honest communication with accountability groups, mentors and colleagues is vital. Keep sharing what is happening, but also humbly listen to input. Communication should be two way. If your spouse or children are telling you they are not getting enough time, stop and address it. Listen to your family.

How the Sacred-Secular Divide Influences Attitudes to Business in Europe and Africa

We asked people engaged with BAM around the world to share how they see the sacred-secular divide affecting thinking in the Church in their country – and how this influences engagement of Christians the business sphere.

Perspectives from Europe and Africa

Patrick Kuwana – South Africa

In South Africa there is a church on almost every street in residential areas (especially the poorer township areas) and in fact in some areas it’s two to three in the same street. The latest statistics show that around 80% of the population profess to be Christians and yet South Africa is listed 67th on a list of 175 countries/territories on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (number one being the least corrupt). South Africa has also been listed as one of the countries with the highest Gini co-efficient (which measures the gap between the rich and the poor) meaning that economic inequality is at staggering levels and continuing to grow and is causing great racial division due the historical legacy of apartheid. This economic inequality is fuelling the high crime rate. Read more

Bridging the Divide: A Brief History of Sacred Versus Secular

by Kevin White

Rather than barricading ourselves within the confines of the church, Christians must view their business as a calling and an opportunity to bring to light of God into all spheres – business, government, art, music, science, and education – for the benefit of humanity and for the glory of God. This is the cultural mandate of the church in society and the calling of Business and Mission.

As dual citizens of the kingdom of God and of the world He has created, we are called to serve and be a witness and influence every sphere and profession for the glory of God.

However, today’s secularism has resulted in the cultural expectation of faith being altogether separated from public affairs. Lord Melbourne, who opposed Wilberforce’s efforts to abolish slavery in throughout the British Empire, lamented: “Things have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed to invade public life.”1 Religion, regardless of its contribution the morals of society are treated as off-limits in the public arena. This has led to a mentality of separating faith from work in every sphere. Read more

5 Checkpoints for Work as Worship: Purpose, Profit, Product, Process and People

This post was first published on Leadership.com.sg.

There is no spiritual distinction between serving in the marketplace or doing ministry, as we should treat everything we do as worship to our King.

Luke 19:13 says, “So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’”

The conflict between the calling to serve in the marketplace and church ministry has to be cleared. There have been so many people who assume their work is “secular/carnal” while doing ministry in church is “sacred.” The result of this kind of mindset has largely dismantled the ability of Christians in the marketplace to exert positive influence and impact. If God’s redemption extends to all arenas of life, then it is always true that His redemption plan includes work and the marketplace. Jesus endorses us to be faithful in our work: “Do business till I come.”

In my personal life, for quite some time, I have also been juggling with the so called “myth balls” of work. As a Christian, I believe that my spiritual growth determines my future success in life; on the other hand, I believe the first “myth ball” that in order to develop my spiritual growth, I have to sacrifice part of my working life. I have to be very focused and serious in building up my spiritual journey in the church, involving myself heavily in church related ministry, and the rest of my time and energy – I spend on work. Read more

Things to Think About While You are Sowing

Should I shut my business down if I’m not seeing spiritual fruit?

This is a very important question, one that leads to some other questions and observations:

  • How do you know if there is fruit?
  • Why am I not as successful as others?
  • Things to think about while sowing

Let’s talk about each of these in turn:

How do you know if there is fruit?

One of the problems with coming from the West is that we are often too short-term results oriented. This is especially true when we apply a cause-and-effect mentality to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not up to us to dictate what the work of Holy Spirit will do – we certainly must do our best in sowing and cultivating and praying but in the end we must give it over to the Lord to grow the fruit. We must do all we can in ‘preparing the soil and planting the seeds’ and let the Holy Spirit work on the person’s heart. Read more

10 Signs That I Have a Well Developed Theology of Work

These ideas come from a list of 47 signs by Worldview Matters.

 

I bear in mind daily that the two foremost workplace responsibilities I have are to love the Lord with all my heart, mind and strength, and to love my co-workers and customers as myself. Matt. 22:36-40

I communicate with God at work, and I ask Him for wisdom regarding the work I do. II Tim. 3:16-17; Rom. 1:18-20; James 1:5

I think about the fact that my workplace is a realm God intends for me to steward and govern over well. Gen. 1:26-28; Ps. 8:4-8

I think about my co-workers being spiritual as well as a physical beings, having both physical and spiritual needs. Gen. 2:7; Deut. 6:5

I am conscious of the fact that since I am a believer in Christ, and I have the Holy Spirit dwelling within me, He empowers me to live a God-glorifying life in the workplace in all circumstances. I John. 4:4 Read more