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Really! Work is Worship

by Patrick Lai

The Hebrew word “avodah” (ah-vod-ah) is translated in the English Bible for both work and worship. A better English translation when referring to work is service. God receives work as worship done unto Him. Put simply: work is worship. The similarity between the two clarifies that in God’s eyes our work is worship in that it is not done for our own benefit, but rather as an offering to Him. This means the workplace is God’s place. We are to interact with God and talk about God in our workplace just as we do at church or at home. The workplace is a place of worship where we may express the compassion of Christ in word and deed.

In building a theology of work we need to begin with God’s Word and God’s words.  The Hebrew word avodah is central to understanding God’s view of work and worship. This noun עבדה (avodah), occurs 145 times, making this word group a substantial theme in the Old Testament. The root verb עבד (avad) occurs 289 times in the Bible, mostly in the qal form. This does not include the substantive form, עבד (eved), which occurs an additional 780 times in the Old Testament.  The עבד word group is translated throughout the English Old Testament in three main ways: Read more

Guidelines for Cross-Cultural Business Ethics

By Larry Sharp

This article is designed to help with decision making for business owners working cross-culturally in developing countries. It recognises that there are few absolute standards which apply to all contexts all the time and thus hopefully these guidelines will assist business owners in making tough decisions on matters related to ethics, corruption, morality, bribery and similar themes.

Some would like to believe that the Bible gives a single definitive perspective for all situations. While this is not true, the Bible does give us principles for decision making, thus in preparing for decisions it is important to understand Biblical absolutes in the light of:

  • Biblical culture
  • Our own culture of socialization
  • Our host culture of doing business

Ethics may be defined as the moral philosophy of knowing the difference between what is right and wrong and acting accordingly. It includes a moral duty and obligation to do good, a statement which seems straightforward but which is complex in light of diverse cultures. Ethics has its root in the Greek word “ethos” which means character; therefore an ethical framework is a systematic set of concepts which provides guidelines for correct behaviour that demonstrates ideal individual and corporate character.

It is important that we treat these guidelines as just that – “guidelines” that are a means to guide our customization in the application of God’s principles to contextual situations in our modern world. Read more

2IC: Business as Mission for the Rest of Us [Book Excerpt]

by Mike Baer

God graciously invaded my life in early 1974. Actually He had been battering at the gate of my self-centered fortress for some time prior but it was in February of that year that, like Lydia, the Lord opened my heart and I believed. My conversion was dramatic. Not emotional. No fireworks. Yet one man knelt down to meet Christ and another, entirely new person got up to live for Him.

Within a week I had connected with 3 other new believers on the campus of the University of Tennessee. We all faced a common dilemma. What do Christians do on Friday night? We were expert in what pagans do. But what about the followers of Jesus? Not knowing any better we decided to get together to read the Bible, to pray together and to play cards. That first evening there were 4 of us. The next week there were 8. Then 16 and so on until soon over 150 students and young people began to gather to study the Word, to pray, and eventually to exercise baptism, the Lord’s Supper and Church Discipline. Without our knowing it God had used us to plant a New Testament church. I, along with a couple of others became the “elders” and “pastors” of this congregation and from that point I spent the next 15 years in a pastoral role for several different churches around the U.S. I jokingly refer to myself as the “accidental church planter” because only God could have engineered such a path. Read more

10 Things That Will Help or Hinder BAM Mobilisation

How do we multiply and scale the number of fruitful BAM companies around the world? One of our key tasks must be to envision and mobilise a new wave of would-be business as mission practitioners from every country on the planet. Some of those will come from a corporate or small business background, envisioned with a broader perspective on their skills, experiences or companies. Others will come from a non-profit or mission agency context after seeing the need for business as mission firsthand. Still others will be the next generation coming through schools and colleges, growing up with an integrated passion for business and God’s work in the nations.

There are many strategies and models for mobilising and equipping future BAMers. Whatever your strategy, here are 10 things that will help or hinder you:

1. God is at work

Perhaps our most important opportunity is that God is on the move in the global marketplace. God is at work among business people and business people are hungry for this message. Christ-followers in the marketplace around the globe are sensing God’s call to impact the world in and through their vocation. Our message must affirm business professionals and exhort them to use their vocational experience and expertise for God’s Kingdom work. Since we are co-workers with the Holy Spirit in the work of mobilisation, prayer must be considered vital work in the BAM community. We cannot have fruitful advocacy and mobilisation without this partnership between our efforts and God’s work in people’s lives. This is not another program for us to deliver, but a movement of God. Read more

How to Pray: Practical Guidelines for a BAM Company

by David Skews

Business as mission is far more than business in worldly terms, it is service for God and must be conducted to His glory alone. In such a business, therefore, prayer (regular audience with God) is paramount to gain His guidance, His methods and His mind.

The following guidelines have a narrow application to the business. They are not intended to address personal spiritual issues, although without a close personal walk with God, any business is going to struggle.

Issues and concerns are listed under a number of headings that are relevant to business. When an issue arises, our natural instincts are likely to rise to the fore. It is suggested, therefore, to read the related biblical passages with a submissive attitude that is willing to submit to God’s ways. Our prayers should then be directed at bringing people and circumstances into alignment with God’s will.

This list is a work in progress. Many issues will arise that are not covered, but the same principle should be followed: search the scriptures for relevant references and allow God’s Spirit to apply them to the hearts of all those who are praying and then frame prayers accordingly. Read more

Prayer in the Business: We are the Branches

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. – John 15: 5-8

It doesn’t get much straightforward than John 15 does it?

Abiding = fruitfulness / Not abiding = withering

It’s hard to admit it sometimes, but we are the branches. Jesus is the vine. We are not going to be fruitful without that connection, that relationship, that remaining in Him.

Prayer is both a place of abiding, and also a promised fruit of that relationship. We connect with the true vine in the place of prayer, but Jesus also says that answered prayer is an outcome of abiding:

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15: 7 (emphasis mine)

BAM CEO and mentor Peter Shaukat writes, “In establishing an authentic, impactful BAM enterprise, we are establishing a point of light – a city on a hill, if you like – in a spiritually darkened place. We are working with BAM companies that are both viable commercial entities, and intentionally missional and transformational. Where transformation is needed or is a goal of the company, that cannot be achieved without the gifts of the Spirit. We can do nothing apart from Him.” Read more

Business and Church Planting: Made for Each Other!

by João Mordomo

In recent years, many people have begun to more fully appreciate the huge power and potential of business as mission as both a means to enter into contexts where missionaries are unwelcome, and a mechanism to catalyze church planting among unreached peoples. In fact, while other models often work in other contexts, BAM is distinctly qualified to open doors where the Gospel and church planting often are most needed. I won’t say “uniquely” qualified because I don’t want to get an influx of emails calling me a BAM extremist, but I will admit I lean in that direction!

Yet while the power of BAM to catalyze church planting becomes increasingly apparent to us, this relationship is not a new one. Luke, in apparently hyperbolic fashion, wrote in Acts 19:10 that in a period of two years, “all the residents of Asia (roughly today’s Turkey) heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” What was he thinking? Surely a medical doctor and historian would never resort to such embellishment of the truth! Read more

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.

 

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

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

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