After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.
Acts 18: 1–3
Sometimes it’s hard for entrepreneurs, creativepreneurs and business owners to find a place of acceptance within the institutional church.
There’s a tension that arises when we heed the call to serve God through our businesses when service is considered acceptable only when it’s in the church.
You’re encouraged to volunteer to usher or greet on Sundays, to participate in serve days, to join a committee, to teach Sunday school or VBS, to lead a life group.
All of these are good to do, but if you don’t have time to give to the church because of your business responsibilities, or it church service isn’t meaningful for you because it doesn’t provide opportunity to use your God-designed talents and desires, there’s a sense of unworthiness and otherness that arises.
For many church goers, if you’re not serving your church in some capacity you’re not serving God.
Many people find their value and identity in volunteering in their church. They take great pride in the number of hours they clock and their status as volunteer of the month.
Business owners often don’t have the bandwidth for church service. Their priorities center on serving their customers and clients.
This idea that service to God has to be done within the institutional church and that we’re not good Christians if we aren’t volunteering in some capacity is not what the early church — the one described in Acts — intended.
The early church practiced its faith in the public square. Preaching, signs, and wonders happened in town centers, places of enterprise and commercial exchanges. Lydia was a merchant and importer. Paul made and sold pop-up shelters. John and Peter made their living in the food supply industry. Luke was a physician. Tabitha (Dorcas) was a fashion designer and tailor.
Each of these pursued their calling in the marketplace and served God through their talents, skills, and business know-how. Their businesses were their platforms.
Instead of bringing unsaved people to church, entrepreneurs bring Jesus Christ directly to the people.
Where does the money to fund church projects and programs come from? It comes from the marketplace. It’s godly to work for profit. Profitability empowers generosity, and generosity funds the institutional church.
Christian entrepreneurs create revenue streams by offering needed goods and services. The goods and services benefit the customers and clients who pay for them, and entrepreneurs have a direct impact on the wellbeing and mindset of their audience through marketing and branding. The profits generated by businesses are then used to fund the church (tithes and offerings), either directly from the business owner, or by employees of a business.
While our business are for profit enterprises, they’re actually far more useful than simple revenue generation. They provide the opportunity to engage with directly people in informal, everyday encounters and to facilitate transformation in their lives.
A person who will not willingly attend church will far more willingly interact in a marketplace conversation.
Keep this in mind: If Christ is in us — if the Holy Spirit dwells in each of us — then wherever we go, he goes. Whoever we meet he meets.
…our business are far more useful than simple revenue generation. They provide the opportunity to engage directly with people in informal, everyday encounters…
Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to minister in the community and serve the “unchurched” in a natural, non-awkward and unforced manner.
The church in Acts was a marketplace church. The growth of the church didn’t happen inside a worship service but outside in the public square. It happened in commerce as people went about their business engaging with customers, and clients, with people having conversations during lunch breaks and price negotiations. Simply conducting business gave the opportunity to engage and converse with people.
And so marketplace business was a main factor in the growth of the early church.
We can consider our businesses as ministries and our platforms as pulpits. Our brands, our marketing messages, our choice and use of social media, our use of advertising, how we carry through and serve our customers and clients, the systems and policies that we put in place to sustain our businesses and protect them — all of these give us the opportunity to share the gospel message in winsome and covert ways.
The revival that the church is looking for right now I believe won’t take place within the church. It’s going to be in the marketplace — out and about in culture. The reason for that is people are not going to come to church to experience revival. Revival has got to happen in the marketplace. The message of the church — the message of the gospel — has to go into the marketplace where yes, there is conflict; where yes, there’s uncomfortable ideas that we have to deal with.; where yes, there are people who don’t believe in Jesus Christ and will ridicule us and call us stupid and liars for believing something as inane as Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead and is the son of God and is coming again.
The shift I believe that the believing entrepreneur needs to make is to stop trying to find status within an institutional church but to instead accept the call to evangelistic entrepreneurship and use their business to promote life transformation via the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
stop trying to find status within an institutional church but … instead accept the call to evangelistic entrepreneurship
The Holy Spirit Provides the Working Capital
We’re called by God not only to build a business and keep good books and just scales. He’s empowered us through the Holy Spirit to do minister (to serve) through our enterprises on a daily basis by building relationships.
The approach isn’t to start out with “Hi I’m a Christian and Jesus loves you,” but by being somewhat stealth in our approach. We simply serve the client or customer and so win the right to engage in meaningful conversation. Then that conversation can lead to changed minds and softened hearts. Conversations can be highly transformative.
One thing you can do if you haven’t thought of your business as a ministry prior to this is to pray for your clients and customers. Pray for their well being. Pray that they prosper in all things and remain in health and that their souls prosper. Ask God for wisdom and right words and also opportunity.: Wisdom to know what approach to take and when to take it; Right words that will speak to not just the mind but the heart of the person.; and to recognize in wisdom what the opportunities are when they present themselves.
Not every conversation you’re going to have with a client or customer is going to be ministry based. But your approach, attitude, and demeanor are all going to be clues revealing your concern for them. Once they understand that you do have their best interests in mind they’ll give you permission to start sharing the gospel directly.