This case study from the new BAM and the Church Report published by BAM Global showcases the process that one denomination in Ethiopia took to implement a workplace ministry throughout the denomination, following key leaders embracing the need to overcome theological challenges inherent in the church’s understanding of work.
The Ethiopia Kale Heywet Church (EKHC), with 10,000 churches and 10 million members is Ethiopia’s largest evangelical denomination. In 2017, Pastor Yoseph Bekele was appointed to be the ‘Business as Mission Director’ for the Kale Heywet Church. Yoseph had previously worked in youth ministries across the country, even while running several businesses of his own.
When he started, Yoseph shared that businesspeople were considered ‘sinful people’ in his setting. There was no understanding of the purpose of business from a godly or biblical perspective. He also shared that while Ethiopia has a rich heritage and culture, it is poor economically. Therefore, sharing about work as worship and business as mission would be critical for Ethiopian Christians to understand the biblical call to work and how to do business that honours God, which can allow them to grow economically and to flourish in God’s way.
Outcomes to date
In the first three years of the program, from 2018 to 2021, Yoseph and his team of BAM trainers reached nine of the eleven regions of Ethiopia with the message of church-based business as mission. There are teams of trainers who help pastors understand the call of the local church to equip their members for the work of the ministry from Monday to Saturday. The leadership of the headquarters church of the Kale Heywet denomination has agreed that every local church should have a workplace ministry, just as they have a youth and women’s ministry.
In addition to working through the local church leaders, BAM trainers are also bringing this message to youth leaders, women ministry leaders, children’s ministries, prison ministries, mission departments, and the many Kale Heywet Bible schools, while also passing on the teaching and training to other denominations. As part of the training, everyone learns that there are one or more critical outcomes from the three Great Directives—the Great Commitment, the Great Commandment, and the Great Commission.
The Great Commandment outcome is social. Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is about loving God whole-heartedly and loving our neighbour as ourselves. The Great Commission outcome is missional. Jesus tells us to go and make disciples, beginning in Jerusalem and reaching the whole world. But the outcomes of the Great Commitment, a universal call, is economic and ecological. For many Ethiopian Christians, this often comes as a surprise. Read more