To facilitate a truly global conversation, we ask Christian leaders from around the world to respond to the Global Conversation’s lead articles. These points of view do not necessarily represent the Lausanne Movement. They are designed to stimulate discussion from all points of the compass and from different segments of the Christian community. Please add your perspective by posting a comment so that we can learn and grow together in the unity of the Spirit.
A response to Mats Tunehag - - Business as Mission: A Challenging Rediscovery
Mats has offered a timely and provocative challenge founded in a solid theological and conceptual framework. Bridget’s historical perspective is a good reminder that God has moved in and among His people in times past. By implication both believe He can, and surely wants to do so again. This raises an important question: what must we do so that we might see His Spirit move in our day?
A common human tendency is to attribute our problems to someone else. “The current crisis of capitalism is due to banker greed.” “The troubles in our business are the result of a warped sense of entitlement by unions.” “We cannot hope to accomplish anything as long as corrupt politicians are in power.” And of specific relevance to the BAM movement, “The day of aid is over…the corrupting power of charity must be replaced by the real sustainable agent of change – business and business people.” One thing is true about business – and in particular, BAM; it is people, individuals and communities making a difference. Making progress on the issues addressed by Mats will depend quite profoundly on what I do – what we do – in response, directed and aided by the Spirit of Christ.
As I observe it, we in the business community who claim to have a burden for effective mission in our present day also seem to believe the mantle of anointed leadership for its execution has been placed upon our shoulders. Worryingly, there is presently a significant credibility gap as measured by the relative few who are actually engaging. Here are some humble suggestions to turn things around.
Fearlessly participate in alternative “affinity groups” to nurture our discipleship, refusing to accept there is only one way of “doing church”. The principle of new wine in new wineskins suggests that the context for at least some measure of BAM will be outside familiar ecclesiastical and missional structures – even while we should not despair of renewal emerging in the most surprising places.
Pro-actively engage in mentoring and being mentored across generations, cultures and disciplines, remembering that God is the author of globalisation and collaboration in His work of redemption. We must resist the subtle notion that our spiritual formation and impact can be achieved in individualistic isolation without the disciplines of life and the exercise of our talents and spiritual gifts taking place in global community.
Embrace the risk of leaving our safe harbours to be “where He is” – recalling the extreme dangers of engaging in trade in an earlier time can be a pretty rude awakening as to just how risk-averse and comfortable we have become. Crossing cultures, enduring hardship, taking up our cross to bring the good news of the Kingdom to places and peoples everywhere is an acid test of our obedience to Christ.
Radically place our money where our mouth (or intellect) is. There is a widespread assumption that serious Christ-followers should tithe, or in other ways steward their income as gifts to the church, mission enterprise or various charitable causes. What might happen if Christians approached their investments in the same way by consistently, thoughtfully, proportionally investing in BAM initiatives beyond the personal security motivation of financial wealth preservation and generation alone?
May the application of these steps in specific, personalised ways help us together achieve the impossible for His greater glory!
Peter Shaukat is the founder and CEO of a global investment fund with a portfolio of business as mission initiatives in the Arab world and Asia.