This has been on my heart a lot over the last year. I just closed down my small business (sub-contracting) and have a real passion for helping other small business owners.
It's going to take a parishioner who wants to start something. Of course leadership has to actually let someone who isn't formally trained teach classes.
My previous church didn't allow that. This church highly encourages members to teach classes.
So, someone like myself who owned his own company for 7 years needs to step forward and look to head up a group working to minister to small business owners.
One of the unfortunate consequences of the churches emphasis on a God-called vocational ministry is that those not "in the ministry" vocationally are not called of God to their field.
By the way, I have discovered that most references to ministry on the internet are references to government departments in the world areas other than the US.
One way to emphasize the calling of God to business people would be to have business people share their calling as a living illustration in the pastor's sermon.
On my http://CareersWithPurpose.com website I attempt to focus attention on the concept of fulfilling God's purpose in whatever career choice people make, as long as that career is morally in keeping with God's standards of righteousness.
You will hear many Business people share their testimony of being called of God to their specific career path here on the 48Days website, testimonies I am sure you could use in your teaching and writing, and even through the internet through a website or blog, which is also a way to fulfill God's calling.
Onward with purpose,
Chaplain Paul Slater
Love all the banter! Love the question. What if at the heart of the message of redemption, sanctification and discipleship we: the church placed and developed the idea that God's wonderful plan includes all an individual is; when God redeems a person His goal is to transform them by unleashing, recouping his original design in their lives. The wiring, noble passions, and skills thus reflecting His divine glory. That said I can think of no better place to offer information like the 48 Days seminars, to support individuals in their pursuits and development, their call. then the church. For too long the church (i speak from both sides of the platform) has had a great disconnect between the monday through friday, 9 to 5 part of life and what takes place in their programs. We have treated the work place as a necessary evil in the lives of our congregations there to fund our ministries and proselytize new constituents for our programs; friend days, special events etc... usually aimed at marketing ourselves with the message of God a central but oft practical periphery of our efforts.
Scripture says so much about our work, our call as central to God's plan. In fact a man or woman who does well in their "work" testifies most loudly to the Love of God, His creation and plan to rescue and restore all that was intended at it's inception. So along with a message of mans need for transformation let's include God's intent too as part of this process bring clarity to our deepest desires, passions, fulfilling our dreams while our work fulfills His Kingdom plans.
James and Paul start the revolution! Take the business owners and reveal God's kingdom plan within their work. The parameters set forth in the gospel found in the two greatest commandments was intended to be carried out in or work as well as our personal lives and I will go you one better our works should be an integral part of our redemption and thus the mission of the church to as they go make disciples.
Thanks for the sop box. Seriously the time has come to bridge this chasm.
I think most churches are still in the "old" thinking....get a job, pay the bills and retire from the same company after X number of years. Even though the Bible does say a lot about work (and goals), I think very few pastors feel competent to talk about them....maybe because they are unsure of their "calling" and are not goal setters themselves.
Maybe there is an entire market there (for small/medium churches especially).
This is something that has been a hot-button topic for me during this recession, mainly because I am now old enough to see the disconnect. I like how Dennis words it: "We have treated the work place as a necessary evil in the lives of our congregations there to fund our ministries and proselytize new constituents for our programs; friend days, special events etc... usually aimed at marketing ourselves with the message of God a central but oft practical periphery of our efforts."
We as the church have jumped on the band-wagon behind the media and the government and have vilified the successful businessman as a greedy, dishonest individual who is nothing but money-hungry--equating them to Zacchaeus in the Bible who seemed to have to give all his money away in order to gain redemption. We see the accumulation of money as being a necessary evil in culture when we should all 'sell everything and live in harmony with one another' as the people in Act 2 did.
While this is where we are at, things need to change. We need to highlight the good people do in their business endeavors and not focus only on how they are "giving back" to the community from their profits, but focus on the benefits to the community that their services/work offer. The idea of 'giving back' implies taking in the first place, and while there are some business that focus on what they can take, most business that last for the long-term are ones that focus more on giving and not getting.
The Bible says a lot about money and about work and calling, and most of it is not negative in nature, but --on the money side-- more of a warning of the temptations and responsibilities that it brings with it. This is why tithe and offering are such a brilliant system: Those who earn more, give more, and those who have more, have the responsibility --and choice-- of using what they have for the benefit of others. The Bible doesn't say anything about looking at what someone else and wanting them to share it; oh wait it does: Commandment #10. :)
Thanks for the discussion topic because it is a good subject to keep in our minds. Thoughts or push-backs?
Our Church (Bethany Church in Greenland, NH) is so good at this. They very often focus on the business skills/gifting of the people to further the church.
Every year they also promote a conference (Willow Creek Leadership Summit simulcasted by the Willow Creek Community Church) where they have speakers. Not all of them are faith based but the speaker will make the connections. It has become something that my husband and I don't want to miss. Because we are a host church the fee is considerably less.
Attending has given us so many good ideas and has prompted the opening of our new business that blends "business" with "making a difference".
I love the question and have pondered upon it from both sides of the pulpit.
Men in general are elevated if they are in certain ministry positions and discriminated against if not in most churches.
Most pastors I know would say calling to "full-time" ministry is the highest calling on the one hand and then say that if God wants you to do something else, then you should do that.
And so many business people (and this isn't unique to men at all and may even be worse with business women in some cases) are continually undervalues unless a donation is being requested or the church is in need of their service or wares.
I think some of this bipolar weirdness is in part because many believe the calling to paid Christian ministry is a specific one, and many would say life-long. I think another part comes from the fact that most pastors today are fully employed through their church and not bi-vocational and really can't identify with the men in their church. While some would say they can because of work they have done many years prior, it doesn't seem to mesh with reality.
Another part comes from the fact that most churches don't practice a well-developed theology of the image of God which has many implications. As a result, many are taught that they can "serve the Lord" if they are called and if not, they can do whatever they want and sometimes told to pray about it and seek counsel. As a result, some young people say, "I want to serve the Lord" therefore, I must be called to be a pastor and the cycle is perpetuated.