Examples of Kingdom Entrepreneurs in History
The daily struggles ... are precisely the things that enable kingdom entrepreneurs to model Christian discipleship on a daily basis.
• Was spiritually gifted,
• Was called and equipped to use those gifts in a business context,
• Had a genuine desire to see communities of faith spring up in the spiritually driest places,
• Was willing to live and work in these places to make that happen,
• Had an incarnational outreach.
...every Christian is a missionary and should witness through his daily vocation.
Section 2: The Entrepreneurial Life
Part 4: Kingdom Entrepreneurs
As Christians, we are called to be authentic in everything we do. Entrepreneurship for Christians is another grand opportunity to show the watching world how things could be different because of the good news of Jesus Christ. We carry with us a mindset that is focused on glorifying God first, even as we do business.
The Christian world likes to label things, and in this case, it’s no different. The label for this manner of living out your faith is most often called “Kingdom Entrepreneurship”. As we begin this section, let’s keep in mind that our impact on the world as Christians does not come from the labels we give ourselves, but from the fact that people will observe our lives as we do everything for God’s glory.
Dr. Steven Rundle, Associate Professor of International Business at BIOLA University (California, USA), defines Kingdom Entrepreneurs as this:
“Kingdom entrepreneurs are authentic businesspeople with proven competence in at least one are of business administration. They are spiritually gifted much like traditional missionaries, but are called and equipped to use those gifts in a business context. Kingdom entrepreneurs have a genuine desire to see communities of faith spring up in the spiritually driest places, and are willing to live and work in these places to make that happen. Rather than perceiving the business as a distraction from their ministry, kingdom entrepreneurs recognize it as the necessary context for their incarnational (i.e. living out your faith in your daily life) outreach. The daily struggles—meeting deadlines, satisfying customers, being victimized by corruption—are precisely the things that enable kingdom entrepreneurs to model Christian discipleship on a daily basis.”
(Steven Rundle, as found in On Kingdom Business—Transforming Missions Through Entrepreneurial Strategies, by Tetsunao Yamamori and Kenneth A. Eldred, editors, pp. 229-230, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL, USA, 2003).
With this definition in mind, let’s look at the lives of kingdom entrepreneurs throughout history and today.
The most famous Kingdom Entrepreneur in history is the Apostle Paul. From our definition above, we understand that he was a professional maker of tents and thus an authentic businessman. However, Paul also fulfills the other qualities of a kingdom entrepreneur because he
The following study of the Moravians and Kingdom Entrepreneurs is by Brian Walck and is used by permission.
A case study that demonstrates the positive impact such a missional perspective of work can have on the advance of the Kingdom is that of the Moravians. Although the origins of the Moravian Church predate Luther’s ninety-five theses by about sixty years, these followers of John Hus are best known for their mission efforts around the world during a time when no other Protestant churches were sending out missionaries. In fact, their missionary efforts predated William Carey by sixty years as well. Given the relative scarcity of their numbers then and now, their record is truly astounding. During the forty year period from 1732 to 1771 they planted mission station in the Virgin Islands, Greenland, North America, Lapland, South America, South Africa, and Labrador.”
Back to the Drawing Board: Business as Mission 200 Years Ago
A Case Study of the Moravians.
Not only were they ahead of their time in terms of missionary zeal but they were pioneering in terms of missionary methods. The expenses of missionaries on the field were borne through various business and tent making enterprises. In fact, for over 100 years the cost of mission station expenses was covered by indigenous resources. These business ventures (trades such as shoemaking in the early years and later, trading) provided not only the resources to finance the mission but the platform for mission as well. They found that business provided a natural means of sharing the gospel and naturally earned them good will from the people and local authorities.
According to William Danker, the Moravians from the beginning rejected clericalism and recognized that every believer is in ministry. The notion that any activity was more Christian than any other was denounced. “The most important contribution of the Moravians was their emphasis that every Christian is a missionary and should witness through his daily vocation. If the example of the Moravians had been studied more carefully by other Christians, it is possible that the businessman might have retained his honored place within the expanding Christian world mission beside the preacher, teacher, and physician.”
The Moravians viewed their primary mission to be expansion of the Kingdom. Everything else was instrumental to that end. They chose crafts rather than agriculture because it would give them greater mobility in reaching people. Evangelism and discipleship was the primary goal, both at home and abroad. At home, during periods of slow economic activity, artisans would “go out in pairs and witness to the gospel, earning their living as they went.” In Surinam, the missionaries employed slaves (there was no other way to witness to them). “Sitting on a tailor’s bench together it was easy to converse about the gospel.” It is clear, however, the Moravian missionaries thought that work had value in its own right an tried to impart this value to those to whom they were witnessing.
Service was also a high value, “Economic activities were a means of sharing a better physical and material life with the people of mission lands. Moravians did their best to ease the transition of less advanced people into the crafts and industries of a technologically more progressive culture.” Moreover, they often acted to prevent unscrupulous traders from taking advantage of the native population. They did this by effectively competing against them and in the process established patterns of ethical business that transformed the entire society. In short, the Moravians demonstrate that it is possible to hold a missional perspective on work, advance the gospel and the Kingdom, and make a profit at the same time.
(Brian Walck, http://www.businessasmissionnetwork.com/2008/11/back-to-drawing-board-business-as.html. Used by permission.)