Recently, I have had multiple opportunities to answer the question, “What is a Christian business?” In fact, in a couple of days I will have my very first opportunity to teach an conference of business owners and professionals about taking their faith to their workplace.
Do you want to know the cool thing about this opportunity? The audience will be in India and we will be communicating via Skype!
Christian Business Defined?
In preparation for this conference, I have been working on my definition of a Christian business. While I am not an expert, I have spent the past eight years trying to answer the question and live it out. I have read what the Bible has to say about it, as well as many books that reference the Bible. I have learned from others that are living their faith through their businesses. I have also learned from my own mistakes and disappointments.
Rather than try to relay everything I have learned about defining Christian business (and taking the next several hours of your time!), I will try to give you the basics. I do not pretend that this is an exhaustive definition. Nor do I claim that I am the authority and cannot be questioned. I am simply a disciple that is learning as I go. This is what I have so far:
6 Characteristics of a Christian Business
1. God owns the earth and everything in it.
- This includes all animals, all plants, and even all businesses. In my opinion, the first step of a Christian business is to acknowledge this fact and submit the leadership of the business to God’s direction.
2. God’s economy operates from an eternal perspective.
- God’s economy does not operate from a 30 day picture (or quarterly or annual either). Therefore, a Christian business operates from an eternal perspective – choosing eternal impact over financial results. Obviously, no business can exist by ignoring financial results, but by operating on God’s principles first, both can be achieved.
3. Christian business does not guarantee prosperity.
- Despite TV preachers telling you otherwise, dedicating your business to God will not guarantee you financial success. Though God promises to honor our efforts if we dedicate them to Him (Psalm 37:5-6), He does not say when this will happen. His time frame is not ours. We may expect our reward while we are honoring Him, but He may not bring it to life for 100 years. We honor Him for who He is, not for what it will bring us.
4. The mission of the Christian business lines up with Scripture.
- The Greatest Commandment (Matt. 22:37-40) and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) are commands, not suggestions. Therefore, I believe the Christian business should have a mission that reflects these commands.
5. A Christian business exists and operates in the “world.”
- It employs believers and non-believers alike. It ministers to both, as well as customers and the community, in the normal course of doing business. This ministry takes on a variety of looks!
6. A Christian business will fulfill us.
- Quite simply, we are designed to be fulfilled through our relationship with God. Period. If we try to separate our work from that relationship in the hopes that we will get a different, material fulfillment, then we are sadly mistaken. Read Ecclesiastes for more on this. On the other hand, even the most menial work, if done unto God, will bring fulfillment we cannot imagine.
To me, these are basic characteristics of a “Christian” business. I believe this can be done in a tasteful and practical way, without using a bullhorn (consider Chick-Fil-A). Of course, there are going to be pitfalls along the way. But in the end, I believe the fruit that is produced by this kind of business will survive the fire (1 Cor. 3:11-15).
What are your thoughts about these characteristics?
What would you add? What would you eliminate? Why?
How close is your business to exhibiting these characteristics?