Business Is a Holy Calling That Should Be Affirmed by the Church

by Kara Martin

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. Over the coming weeks we will have a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

Affirmations 3 and 4 of the Wealth Creation Manifesto focus on the fact that wealth creation – business – is a holy calling that should be affirmed by the Church:

3. Wealth creation is a holy calling, and a God-given gift, which is commended in the Bible.
4. Wealth creators should be affirmed by the Church, and equipped and deployed to serve in the marketplace among all peoples and nations.

The Wealth Creation Manifesto is a document the Faith–Work Movement (FWM) has needed. An example to illustrate… I was asked to speak at an august seminary in the United States during their Mission Week. There was a lunchtime seminar attended by 70 students and staff on the topic of business as mission, where I was joined by the second guest for the week, an experienced business missionary.

In his introduction, the head of the missions’ centre outlined the value of business as a platform for missionary activity, and that this was the only way to get into some areas of the world. He invited me to respond. I felt fear and trepidation as I rose to speak, wondering if I would have the courage to say what I needed to at this point.

I explained as gently as I could that the concept of business ‘as a platform’ for missionary activity was both an outdated concept, and a failed strategy. I talked about Mark L Russell’s excellent research into ‘fake’ businesses and their impact: loss of money, lacking credibility – reflecting poorly on local Christians, lacking integrity – suggesting Christians can’t be trusted, and creating suspicion – not just about Christians but about the gospel.

Thankfully the other speaker then explained how he had started out creating a business as a platform, had failed, cost money, and created suspicion. He had then realised that business is the mission, in its own right. He went on to build a successful business, creating networks and a good reputation, lauded by the local government, and with the opportunity to openly witness to staff, their families, customers and suppliers.

The Real Warning About Money

Part of the misunderstanding about the capacity of business to be mission, is a poor theology of money. Money is considered evil and many Christians are cautious about even bringing up the subject. However, it is the love of money that is evil; and wise stewarding of money is a Christian’s responsibility.

In seminaries, there is a reluctance to talk about money in leadership programs, and many church leaders outsource responsibility for finances to others in the congregation. A better understanding of the church as a workplace, and money as a tool to be used by God – just like buildings, programs and gifted people – would greatly enhance the ability for a pastor to lead well, and to equip others to influence well; and for both groups to escape the temptation to love money.  Read more

Creating Wealth for God’s Glory and the Common Good

by João Mordomo

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. Over the coming weeks we will have a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

The first two affirmations of the Wealth Creation Manifesto focus on the fact that wealth creation is an overflow of God’s nature, and people are created in God’s image:

1) Wealth creation is rooted in God the Creator, who created a world that flourishes with abundance and diversity.
2) We are created in God’s image, to co-create with Him and for Him, to create products and services for the common good.

These affirmations dwell in the convergence zone between theology and economics, and they serve as the biblical-theological foundation for wealth creation. God is the creator (Gen. 1:1 – 2:4; Neh. 9:6; Ps. 104; Col. 1:16; Rev. 4:11) and owner (Gen. 14:19; 1 Chr. 29:11-12; Ps. 24:1; 1 Cor. 10:26) of the universe, and it is his desire, will, and plan that the world and the people therein flourish with abundance and diversity (Gen. 1:28; Ps. 72:1-7; Prov. 28:20; 2 Cor. 9:8; Rev. 7:9). This is the Old Testament concept of shalom, which theologian Cornelius Plantinga beautifully describes as

The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be. [1]  Read more

Shaping Our Views on Wealth, Wealth Creation and Wealth Creators

by Mats Tunehag

Wealth. That can be a tricky word. There are many connotations in English and the word ‘wealth’ is not always easy to translate into other languages. For many it is mainly about money. But that is only partly true. One can be financially wealthy and socially poor with no friends.

There are different kinds of wealth: financial, social, intellectual, cultural, and spiritual. Wealth can be created, shared, hoarded and destroyed. Hoarding is condemned, and destruction is certainly not commended!

Sharing is good and it is often encouraged. But there is never any wealth to be shared unless it has been created. Wealth creation is actually both a godly gift and a command. [1]

Our views on wealth, wealth creation and wealth creators are important.

Worldview matters and ideas have consequences. One can compare the health and wealth of people and nations with the same culture and language like South and North Korea, and West and East Germany. We can witness how a potentially rich country like Zimbabwe has gone from being a bread basket to a basket case in southern Africa. The oil rich Venezuela is another tragic example of how disregard for basic wealth creation principles has destroyed a country. [2]

We do not see wealth creation as simply a means to make some people rich. To the contrary, we ask, “what really helps the poor?” Instead of asking “what causes poverty, we ask “what causes different kinds of wealth to be created?’

It is a fact that aid – a form of wealth distribution – does not lift people and nations out of poverty long term. Wealth creation does. The biggest lift out of poverty in the history of mankind has happened in our generation. [3] This has been achieved not through aid but by trade; wealth creation through business. This is demonstrated by the escape of hundreds of millions from dire poverty in both India and China since the 1980s.

One cannot tackle poverty without a determined pursuit of wealth creation. [4]

So, what is the role of wealth creation when it comes to the holistic transformation of people and societies? What are biblical principles and the teaching of the church? What lessons have we learned throughout history and around the globe about wealth creation, especially through business? How is wealth creation related to justice, the poor, human trafficking and creation care?  Read more

Wealth Creation Manifesto: Affirming the Role of Business People in God’s Plan for the World

The Bible talks about wealth in three ways; one is bad and two are good. Hoarding of wealth is condemned. Sharing of wealth is encouraged. Wealth creation is both a godly gift and command, and there is no wealth to be shared unless it has been created. But all too often the issue of wealth creation is misunderstood, neglected, or even rejected. The same thing applies to wealth creators.

The Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation aimed at addressing that. During the Consultation process in 2016 and 2017 we discussed various aspects of wealth creation, including justice, poverty, biblical foundation, wealth creators, stewardship of creation and the role of the church.

The Wealth Creation Manifesto below conveys the essentials of our deliberations before and during the Consultation and is now available in 17 languages. It has been just over three years since the Manifesto was first published, with the aim of bringing a much needed affirmation for wealth creation within the global church. It also provides concise biblically-based principles for entrepreneurs and business people in their God-given role as wealth creators (that are then unpacked in 7 full papers on the topic).

This month and next, we are revisiting the Manifesto, with articles covering the eleven affirmations. To kick off this new series, below is a reminder of the Manifesto itself. You can also read a version with bible references here.

CWC Manifesto Cover 200
Background

The Lausanne Movement and BAM Global organized a Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in March 2017. About 30 people from 20 nations participated, primarily from the business world, and also from church, missions and academia. The findings will be published in several papers and a book, as well as an educational video. This Manifesto conveys the essentials of our deliberations before and during the Consultation.

Affirmations

1. Wealth creation is rooted in God the Creator, who created a world that flourishes with abundance and diversity.

2. We are created in God’s image, to co-create with Him and for Him, to create products and services for the common good.

3. Wealth creation is a holy calling, and a God-given gift, which is commended in the Bible.  Read more