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Really! Work is Worship

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we wrap up another great year we will be highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past six months. Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for July to December 2016.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

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

Los Negocios como Misión es Más Grande de lo Que Crees

by Mats Tunehag

Los Negocios como Misión, (en adelante BAM, del inglés Business as Mission) puede sonar como algo un tanto extraño pero, aun así, es un concepto capital y una praxis ineludible.

Eso no significa que BAM sea la estrategia definitiva, ni la solución a todos los problemas. Se trata, en realidad, de un movimiento global, en pleno auge, de cristianos que, desde el ámbito laboral, se preguntan: ¿Cómo puedo hacer para combinar trabajo y servicio a las personas, en sintonía con los propósitos de Dios, y ser, además, un buen gestor de los recursos del planeta y obtener el necesario beneficio?

BAM no pretende sustituir las formas tradicionales de servir a Dios y a las personas en todo lugar y nación. BAM no es tampoco un método para creación de fondos. Ni trata de incorporar actividades propias de la iglesia al ámbito empresarial.

BAM, se plantea la importancia de una responsabilidad social corporativa (RSC). Pero yendo todavía un paso más allá: BAM es RSC+.

Estamos comprometidos con una misión en la empresa y a través de la empresa. Que puede materializarse, por ejemplo, en una actuación justa. Podría incluso tener como lema “Empresa Justa”. Ese término, y otros similares, pueden ayudarnos a entender la naturaleza transformadora y total de los negocios como misión. Read more

Bad Math: Why Be a Business Professional?

by João Mordomo

Why be a business professional (or any other type of professional) when you can be a “Great Commission professional”? Here’s my first bit of math: “Great Commission = to make disciples of all peoples” (see Matt. 28:19-20.)

Many of us have been taught bad math. We’ve learned two formulas in particular whose conclusions can lead to confusion and a lack of clarity about what God wants to do in and through us. Here’s what I mean. We’ve learned that “Great Commission = clergy” and “Business professional = laity”.  

The almost inevitable result of this bad math is to think that the people who hold real value in God’s eyes are the clergy, the full-time religious workers. After all, we are told, they are all about “the Lord’s work,” and they “give up so much” to serve Him in “full-time ministry.”

The flip-side of our conclusion is that, sure, laypeople have some value, but it’s more about the money they make (that they then give as tithes and offerings) or the abilities they have (“hey, would you be interested in teaching a Sunday school class?”).

But that’s not what the Bible teaches! Look at what Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:9, and then get ready to jump for joy (out of your plush leather executive chair, or off of your factory floor, or… well, you get my point!)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. – 1 Peter 2:9

Did you read it? If you are not jumping for joy already, maybe I can help. Read more

Sabbath Rest and Celebration in the Life of a BAM Practitioner

by Bill J.

In Hebrews 4 we read, “So then there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works.”

Sabbatical rest here is not the same as observing the Sabbath. They are different words in the text. The Sabbath is a day of the week set aside on which to not work. The Sabbath rest seems to be an experience we could have everyday, not one day a week. We enter into God’s rest by “resting from our own works.” So what in the world does that mean?

This Sabbath rest or in Greek ‘sabbatismos’ is defined by Strong’s concordance as “(figuratively) the repose of Christianity (as a type of heaven): — rest.” This sounds like what you would expect our experience to be if “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” actually happened! In the presence of the Lord we could cease from our own labors because he is here with us.

For anyone running a business this sounds absolutely crazy. We probably are busier than we have ever been. Telling us to rest from our works can feel very irresponsible. And so, most us plug on ahead at full speed. Or to avoid burn out, we slow down and the business fails to develop into a profitable organization. Read more

Business Fights Poverty: Moving Beyond Charity to Job Creation

by Peter Greer

Excerpts from eBook ‘Stop Helping Us!’ reproduced with kind permission from the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics and Peter Greer. Buy eBook.

Book: Stop Helping Us CoverStop Helping Us! introduces a new paradigm for an evangelical response to poverty alleviation. Being effective means recognizing that there is a difference between short-term aid, which is important and necessary, and the long-term elimination of poverty, which is the best defense against receding back into material poverty and the most effective method of elevating the dignity of all God’s children. We will see the stories of those who were transformed by effective, long-term aid that focused on the individuals rather than just numbers. Included are surveys of the poor and what they desire, showing that their goals have little to do with money and everything to do with using their skills, caring for their families, and embracing their God-given dignity.

The Story of Fadzai

Every time an employer discovered Fadzai Nhamo, a woman from Zimbabwe, was HIV positive, the door shut. “Life was difficult for me when I came to Harare,” Fadzai later remarked. When Fadzai speaks, she covers her mouth to hide her missing front teeth, a daily reminder of the brutal way she contracted HIV. “I left my hometown after someone had beaten and raped me,” she said. Following the assault, a friend took her to a clinic at the capital, Harare. There she discovered she was HIV positive. “When my husband found out I was sick [with HIV], he disappeared,” Fadzai commented later. “I did not have a place to live.” After her husband’s abandonment, Fadzai was left a single mom, a stranger in a new city. With no place to call home, she moved from place to place with her children.

It is possible to debate many points of theology, but our faith clearly calls us to care for Fadzai, an individual who has been exploited and abused. She is the widow and foreigner so frequently mentioned throughout Scripture. When we hear the story of Fadzai’s mistreatment and understand the message of grace in Scripture, we are compelled to respond. Read more

Unleashing the Church to Disciple Marketplace Leaders

by Dr. Phil Walker and Renita Reed-Thomson

There is a story told about a frog in a kettle. The frog is placed in a kettle of cold water. The frog does not notice that the water temperature is being turned up gradually until it is too late. He dies from the heat of the water, not realizing the danger he was in.

The Global Church is suffering from the “frog in the kettle” syndrome. As people increase in financial security, they tend to decrease their dependence on God. It is time to get the frog out of the kettle! In many parts of the world the local church has moved from an evangelical, spiritual force in the community to a closed off social activity in the corner. This move away from the vitality of government, education and business is slowly making the local church irrelevant to the community it is called to serve as a light. Like the frog in the pot, we are slowly reaching a boiling point from which we will not recover our critical role and calling. The dropping statistics of church attendance in both Europe and North America is alarming. Failure to make Jesus relevant in the marketplace will lead to a failure of mission. While business as mission has found a niche in the Christian community, it is not fulfilling its potential.

In 2004 the Occasional Paper on Business as Mission from The Lausanne Movement called on the church to disciple and release its members to be lights in the community.

We call upon the church worldwide to identify, affirm, pray for, commission, and release business people and entrepreneurs to exercise their gifts and calling as business people in the world—among all peoples and to the ends of the earth.

In the same proclamation it called on the business people to live out their calling as Ambassadors, moving out of the four walls of the church into the four corners of the marketplace. Read more

Calling All Wealth Creators! The Church and the Creation of Wealth

by Joseph Vijayam

We who form the Church of Jesus Christ are called to usher in the kingdom of God in all its fullness. Bringing in the kingdom requires the Body of Christ to do many things. One of these is to create wealth.

In Ephesians 5:25-27, Paul uses the imagery of marriage when he refers to Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom betrothed to His bride, the Body of Christ. We are the friends of Christ the Bridegroom, and in that special role we have been entrusted with the task of hastening the day of His wedding. It requires us to work towards preparing the bride so that she is ready and spotless. This happens when the hearts of people across all nations, tribes and tongues are yielded to His Lordship. To this end, we must preach the gospel, make disciples, free the oppressed, feed the hungry, serve those in need and bring in righteousness and justice to all people.

God will do the above through those that fear Him. Wealth is one of the important resources that He grants to His people to accomplish His purpose for all mankind. Wealth is needed to fight poverty which is the primary characteristic of Satan’s kingdom – an antithesis of God’s design and desire for us to enjoy abundant life.

Poverty is often not the result of the sin committed by the person who lives in poverty, but it is a sign that Satan is active in stealing, killing and destroying in order to perpetuate poverty around the world. The good news is designed to provide relief to the poor (Isa 61:1-4). This includes those who are economically poor, the hungry, thirsty, naked and homeless as well as those who are broken hearted, restless and in bondage to sin (Mt 25:35-36). While the anointing breaks spiritual yoke (Isa 10:27), money is needed to break material yoke. Read more

Wealth Creation: A Godly Gift and Command

by Mats Tunehag

As we do business, we create wealth – not only financial wealth, but also social, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual wealth. The Bible talks about wealth in three ways: wealth creation, sharing and hoarding. The last is condemned. Wealth sharing is encouraged and is often facilitated through NGOs and churches, but there is no wealth to be shared unless it has been created. Wealth creation is a godly gift; God says that He gives the ability to create wealth (Deut. 8:18).

Let’s look at the context of this statement in Deuteronomy chapter eight. The people of Israel have been brought out of Egypt and are about to enter the Promised Land. God tells them what to expect and what to do. He explicitly states that there are good business prospects in mining and agriculture. People are admonished to seize these opportunities. As a result, wealth will be created. But then a danger arises, or rather, two potential pitfalls.

Firstly, God says there is a risk that people will think and say that they themselves have created wealth, failing to acknowledge the Lord in it. This is what precedes verse 18. So God reminds them that He is the one who gives the gift and ability to create wealth. Read more

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

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