Alleviating Poverty by Creating Businesses and Sharing Wealth

by Francis Tsui

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. During August and September 2020 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 5 and 6 of the Wealth Creation Manifesto addresses the contrast between wealth creating and wealth sharing, and the power of wealth to alleviate poverty:

5. Wealth hoarding is wrong, and wealth sharing should be encouraged, but there is no wealth to be shared unless it has been created.
6. There is a universal call to generosity, and contentment is a virtue, but material simplicity is a personal choice, and involuntary poverty should be alleviated.

In a January 2020 report, Oxfam International revealed that the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet’s population. It further pointed out that the 22 richest men in the world have more wealth than all the women in Africa.

The Covid-19 pandemic is ravaging the world’s economy and millions of people have lost their jobs, while millions more are living precariously. Since the beginning of the pandemic, billionaires in the U.S., such as Jeff Bezos (of Amazon), Steve Ballmer (former CEO of Microsoft) and Elon Musk (Tesla & SpaceX) and a few of their peers, have together increased their total net worth $637 billion so far. This is a classic case of the few rich ones got richer, while the millions sink to the bottom of the heap. Even some of those who used to be part of the middle class in many countries find themselves caught in the downward spiral. This wealth polarization happens in spite of the pandemic. Yet, the pandemic has just exacerbated the situation through economic shutdowns and restrictions, as well as uneven government economic aid to different industries. Ethical wealth creation should go hand in hand with fairness in wealth distribution.

Minding the Gap

Those who operate in the free market system show the efficacy and potency of their power in wealth creation and accumulation, especially those who manage to harness the power of technological advancement to increase productivity and efficiency. However, the increasing wealth disparity in the world has signaled something is seriously wrong. Wealth hoarding is definitely wrong, and wealth sharing needs to be encouraged. The Executive Director of Americans for Tax Fairness Frank Clemente once said, “The orgy of wealth shows how fundamentally flawed our economic system is.” Wealth creation without effective wealth distribution is fundamentally defective and unethical. When more people are sinking into financial oblivion, the result is the demeaning of humanity, and the robbing of human dignity.

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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. During August and September 2020 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. During August and September 2020 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

The Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission: The Power of Integration

by Will Sorrell

Conference centers fill and coffee carafes empty at countless Christian conferences each year. Recently, faith and work1 as well as business as mission (BAM)2 have been popular themes. They are similar in scope, seeking Gospel renewal and redemption in and through the vehicle of work. Nevertheless, these interrelated fields do not intersect nearly enough.

A recent article from Mats Tunehag, co-author of BAM Global Movement, describes the business as mission movement as upheld and driven by three biblical mandates: the Cultural Mandate (Gen. 1:28), the Greatest Commandment (Matt. 22:37-39), and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). He precisely states that those engaged in BAM must keep all three at the forefront of their intentions, their businesses, and their missions. This is a helpful framework, but does not always materialize in a balanced way. It is not difficult to imagine some BAM entrepreneurs and tentmakers3 placing emphasis upon the Commission over the Cultural Mandate.

Faith and work invites Christians to see the God-ordained value in their existing vocation. Work that promotes human, environmental, and economic flourishing is indeed worship, and we must treat it accordingly.

Meanwhile, the rapidly growing faith and work movement—in the United States and elsewhere—heavily emphasizes societal renewal. Faith and work invites Christians to see the God-ordained value in their existing vocation. Work that promotes human, environmental, and economic flourishing is indeed worship, and we must treat it accordingly. However, faith and work integration must not neglect the charge to make disciples locally and globally.  Read more

Tikkun Olam: How Companies Can Repair the World

by Mark Polet

My good friend, Eric, and I recently walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain together with another of our friends. We were walking through the rolling plains near León, where we could see the pastures and fields for kilometres in every direction, bracketed on three sides by the coastal mountains, the Pyrénées and the hills of Galicia. God’s creation lay before us like an open book. Perhaps inspired by such a scene, Eric told me about the Hebrew concept of Tikkun Olam, ‘Repair the World’.

Repair the World

Romans 8 is pretty clear that the liberation and restoration of creation is integrated with our redemption. We in the impact business space have the profound privilege of repairing the world economically, spiritually, socially and environmentally, carrying out the commandment of ‘Working in the Garden,’ (Gen 2:15).

Let’s focus on how we as Impact Business leaders can ‘Repair the World’ from an environmental perspective. In 41 years of service, I have had the privilege helping companies from over 21 different industry types fulfil their environmental obligations, and in some cases, show environmental excellence.  Read more

Who Cares About Creation Care?

by Mats Tunehag

We know we are to be good stewards of creation. Those are God’s instructions to humans in Genesis 1 & 2 – especially Gen.1:28, often known as the ‘creation mandate’ (also ‘cultural mandate).

In the Business as Mission (BAM) movement we typically talk about the quadruple bottom line of social, spiritual, environmental and economic impact:

In and through business we want to:

  • serve people,
  • align with God’s purposes,
  • be good stewards of the planet,
  • and make a profit.

But how are we doing in the BAM community with stewardship of the planet? How are BAM companies leading the way in positive environmental change?

We know from our work in the BAM Global Network that creation care and environmental stewardship is a relatively weak area for BAM companies, and and that BAM practitioners feel under-resourced and overwhelmed by this challenge. Creation care is a topic in much need of further exploration in the BAM movement. This is why we are launching a blog series focused on BAM and Creation Care on The BAM Review in the coming month.  Read more

Three Lessons from The Good Book on Business

If Christian business leaders would accept their significant role in the Kingdom, we could transform the world! However, two current cultural paradigms hold back Christian businesses and prevent them from fulfilling their purpose: The secular idea that business is just about making money, and the Christian cultural idea that business is really a second-class occupation, subservient to the institutional church clergy.

Dave Kahle addresses these challenges in his book The Good Book on Business and helps us grow in our understanding of the importance of business in the Kingdom of God. Beginning with the first words God spoke to Adam and continuing through the entire Bible, Kahle shows that business was, and is, God’s first choice as a venue through which to interact with mankind, take care of people, grow character and faith, and channel God’s power and providence. Here are a three take-aways from the book for those wondering what the Bible has to do with their business:

1. God at Work

At the start, there is the foundational truth that God himself is a worker, as shown through His creation of the universe and culminating with His creation of humankind. God created humankind in His image, and so it is His intent for us is to also be workers, and by extension, to be involved in business.  Read more

Four Essentials of a Working Spirituality

by Peter Shaukat

Having hazarded a comment on the global and ecclesiastical context of our time and offered a rough and ready theology of work, I’d like to outline few suggested essentials of a working spirituality with a missional worldview for the professional or business person.

Embrace the Incarnation of Christ

The first essential is to embrace the incarnation of Christ. Specifically, devotionally, prayerfully to remember and internalize the fact that Jesus walks the Holy Land of your country, your marketplace, your professional sphere through you. You are his hands and feet. You are his mind and word. You are a channel of his redemption and restoration. His promise that we would do greater works than he did in Palestine is surely supported by his promise to be with us and evidenced by the work and witness of practicing Christians in every profession, especially in places where it’s still highly unlikely that the majority have ever seen a Christian engineer, teacher, or businessman.  Read more