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

How the Sacred-Secular Divide Influences Attitudes to Business in the Americas

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 North and South America

João Mordomo – Brazil

My day-to-day experience in both mission and business, as well as my academic research concerning business as mission, have convinced me that the sacred-secular divide is one of the greatest challenges facing not only Latin American missions, but the Latin American Church at large.

Latin America can be divided broadly into two major regions, based on language. Portuguese-speaking Brazil comprises roughly half of South America’s landmass and population. The other half, as well as most of Central America, is Spanish-speaking. While there are significant historical, cultural, linguistic, economic and religious differences, for the purpose of these brief observations concerning the sacred-secular divide, we will consider Latin America as a whole. Read more

What Does the Sacred-Secular Divide Look Like Around the World?

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. Here are some of their responses and we will be posting more in the coming two weeks.

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 about 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. So why would a nation that claims to be 80% Christian have this prevailing situation that more resembles the fruit of darkness in society? It is because most of the 80% claiming to be followers of Christ have compartmentalized their Christianity into a “church box” and have left their “business and workplace box” void of the principles and practices they adhere to while in the “church box”. The missing link is that there is a huge void in understanding that God’s statutes and ways are the foundation of every area of life and hence we see almost no biblical influence in determining the culture of business and the overall structure of the economy. Read more

Breaking Down the Sacred-Secular Divide

by Mike Baer

Adapted from material first published on the Third Path Blog, as part of a series, reposted with kind permission.

What is the Sacred-Secular Divide?

You don’t have to go very far today to hear some reference to the ‘sacred-secular divide’ or the ‘sacred-secular dichotomy.’ It’s in all the books, blogs, conferences – and occasionally in a sermon. And it’s always in a negative connotation.

So what exactly is the sacred-secular divide? In one sense, it’s impossible to define. It’s a kind of culture, a nuance, an entirely too subtle way of looking at life, vocation and ministry. It’s a shadow that covers many other aspects of our lives. It seems innocuous, but it’s not. The divide is a false dichotomy, a false worldview, an infection in the minds of Jesus’ followers that has done incalculable damage to the cause of the Church.

However, we can at least approximate the meaning of the divide in this way. It is a view of life built on a separation or distinction between those things, people and places someone believes to be sacred (holy and of God) and those believed to be secular (worldly and not of God). Certain callings are holy (missionary, pastor) and others are secular, i.e. of the world and therefore unholy (business, medicine, construction, etc). Certain places are sacred as well—church buildings, graveyards, seminaries while others are secular—my house, your house, schools, and athletic stadiums. I know you might like the sentiment, but a candle lit in a church building is no more holy or special to God than a candle on my 2 year old grandson’s birthday cake. Caution: if that statement offends you, then you are living in the divide. In short, it is all about distinctions and separations and classes and castes. Read more

No Such Thing as Instant Fruit: Faithfulness in Business

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

Instant milk. That’s how a Brazilian friend recently portrayed the challenge of how our contemporary church culture often trains, and equips us to think about, and plan for results. We mix the powder with the water and voila – we have instant, pat-yourself-on-the-back results. In our instant-everything society, this is how we approach our lives, including ministry and discipleship. The ‘we need numbers for our next board meeting’ mentality, and our leaders ask the questions which help us formulate our approach: How many prayed the prayer, how many attend your fellowship, how many did you baptize? We’ve taken it so far as to expect it is the responsibility of the institutional Church to go make disciples, rather than the mandate given to each of us. We speak in terms of how wide rather than how deep. If we can’t quickly quantify our efforts, then we cannot justify our budgets, or in certain cases even our cross-cultural existence. The danger is that we focus on a formula to acquire souls and are driven by the fear of not reaching our goal, rather than the Spirit of the living God.

Those listed in the ‘hall of fame’ in Hebrews 11 were remembered as having walked in faith – even though they all had failures on their journeys, they were counted as faithful. Yet, they walked, never being assured of what they would see, they only had certainty of their call. They couldn’t focus on the daily bumps in the road and twists and turns in their path, which many times led them astray. They had to keep their eyes on the ultimate prize. Jim Elliot and his companions never lived to see the amazing movement in the lives of the Huaorani people, that was in the timing of God’s plan, not man’s. After tireless work, and despite failing health, William Wilberforce only learned three days before his death of the abolition of slavery in England. The Moravian Church, the oldest Protestant denomination, started a continuous 100-year prayer movement that resulted in the first significant wave of Protestant missionaries being sent to the world. The originators of that movement never experienced the incredible fruit that resulted. Read more

What is the Sacred-Secular Divide? Watch 3 Short Videos

The sacred-secular divide is an unbiblical way of thinking about the world that pervades the modern church globally. It deeply affects the way we think about business and work and is one of the most frequently mentioned barriers to understanding and engagement in business as mission. In the coming weeks we will hear stories and teaching that will help to break down the sacred-secular divide. These three short videos, each just a few minutes long, will help answer the question, What is the Sacred-Secular Divide?

Mark Greene: Imagine – London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

The sacred-secular divide is the pervasive belief that some things are really important to God, and that other things aren’t… 

Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Should I Shut My Business?

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

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

~ In Two Minds

Dear In Two Minds,

I think this is far too simplistic a question. The most obvious oversimplification is “not seeing spiritual fruit”. This begs at least two continuation questions:

What is meant by ‘spiritual fruit’?

Who has the right to demand to ‘see’ fruit and on what timescale?

In response to the first question, the book Fruitfulness on the Frontline by Mark Greene recognises six distinct forms of spiritual fruit, namely:

  • Modelling godly character
  • Making good work
  • Ministering grace and love
  • Moulding Culture
  • Mouthpiece for truth and justice
  • Messenger of the gospel

In contrast to these six, many people would define spiritual fruit as the number of people who have committed their lives to Christ as Saviour. This is fine as far as it goes, but we have to remember that Christ’s disciples are responsible for preaching the gospel and for making disciples. The miraculous transformation between those two is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit and we must never attempt to usurp that responsibility. Read more

Is My Business Going to Be Fruitful This Year? Ask Me in 24 Years

by David Stone

What is the great divide? We categorize certain activities as sacred and others as secular. Orphanage ministry or business activity. Sacred or secular? We are still stuck in the divide!

On a recent trip to Kathmandu, Nepal, I was visiting with a small expat short-term missions team on outreach. Two of the team members felt called to business AND missions. I inquired about their business AND missions activity on outreach. They said they had researched (via the internet) Micro-Enterprise Loan organizations in Nepal for a local Business As Mission company. The BAM company is fighting sex trafficking at the source – the families.

The BAM company wants to provide economic opportunity to keep the families from selling their daughters. The BAM strategy includes opening up new trekking routes into the region. That would require hostels and cafes on the routes. Local families can start businesses that would provide an economic alternative to selling their daughters. The new businesses may require small loans, and they need to know what local lending organization are a good fit.

The two young missionaries identified one local Micro-Enterprise Lending company that warranted further consideration. The following dialogue took place. Read more