by David Bennett
‘What is the role of wealth creation in holistic transformation?’ Have you ever heard a sermon or participated in a small group Bible study that answered this question? If your answer is ‘No’, you are not alone.
Although I have been preaching and teaching the Bible for over four decades, I had never addressed that question explicitly. I had taught about the dangers of obsession with wealth, and the importance of good stewardship of wealth. I had discussed the importance of ethical creation of wealth, and the compassionate sharing of wealth. I had advised foundations and wealthy individuals concerning the wise distribution of their wealth. But I had never taught about the God-given role of wealth creators. I had not highlighted the potential impact of a growing business, not only in lifting individuals out of poverty, but in benefiting entire communities, caring for creation, and introducing people to the good news of reconciliation and shalom through Jesus Christ.
Mats Tunehag, our first Lausanne Catalyst for Business as Mission (BAM), expresses it like this, in a chapter for a book soon to published by the Korean BAM movement:
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. But there is no wealth to be shared unless it has been created . . . All too often in the church the issue of wealth creation is misunderstood, neglected, or even rejected. The same thing applies to wealth creators.
A recent Lausanne Global Consultation, co-sponsored by the Lausanne Movement and BAM Global, aimed to address this concern. About 30 people from 20 countries representing every continent—the majority being leaders in business, but also from church, missions, and academia—gathered in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for four days in March 2017. We examined seven aspects of wealth creation for holistic transformation, including biblical and theological foundations, case studies of wealth creators, issues of poverty and justice, cultural factors, care for the environment, and the role of the local church. Over several months the sub-groups had developed advance papers, which were reviewed and discussed by the participants in Chiang Mai. The papers are being further refined based on this collective wisdom, and will be posted online soon. Later will come a book, and educational videos. You can learn about the vision for this consultation through Mats’ blog post.
The key points of the consultation were summarized in a Wealth Creation Manifesto, which I’m presenting to you today. Here are some of the key points of this new document:
Wealth creation is rooted in God the Creator, who created a world that flourishes with abundance and diversity . . . Wealth creators should be affirmed by the church, and equipped and deployed to serve in the marketplace among all peoples and nations . . . Wealth creation through business has proven power to lift people and nations out of poverty. Wealth creation must always be pursued with justice and a concern for the poor, and should be sensitive to each unique cultural context.
The Manifesto concludes, ‘We call the church to embrace wealth creation as central to our mission of holistic transformation of peoples and societies.’ We pray that the Manifesto itself will be influential in the fulfillment of this call.
For a short introduction to three other global consultations that also have dealt with issues related to wealth creation, read also Mats Tunehag’s introductory blog: Wealth Creation Manifesto
As Global Associate Director for Collaboration and Content, David Bennett coordinates the work of the Lausanne Catalysts, serves as Managing Editor for the Lausanne Global Analysis, and leads the Content Team. He holds a BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and MDiv, DMin, and PhD degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary. David has engaged in teaching, preaching, and research on several continents, with particular focus on India.