For-profit business meets for-others missions

By January 22, 2019

International (MNN) — We’ve been talking about what the future of missions could look like. Yesterday, we told you about how crucial understanding technology is to the future of the Church. Today, we’re talking about the role business can play in missions.

We connected with Joseph Vijayam, CEO of Olive Technology, at Urbana ‘18, to talk about how for-profit business can meet for-others missions.

Distribution vs Creation

Vijayam says that the Church has traditionally focused on Jesus’ call to generosity.

“The Church has done a phenomenal job of distributing wealth, of serving the needs of the poor, the widow, the sick, and the dying by taking the wealth of those who are members of the Church and giving it to those who are in need all around the world.”

But Vijayam says that’s not the end of the story. Distributing wealth is crucial to the Gospel’s message of mercy, but the Church needs to create wealth, too.

“The creation of wealth is actually what enables us to send people to the field. It also enables us to send help to people who are in need, so the Church needs to also embrace that as a calling.”

Answering a Call

Joseph Vijayam (Photo courtesy of  InterVarsity)

What’s more, sometimes the call to wealth creation is an individual one. Just as all people are called to evangelism but some specialize in it, Vijayam says some people are called specifically to the world of business. Some are called even more intentionally to entrepreneurship.

“An entrepreneur, someone who founds a business, is someone who is not only creating wealth for himself but also for others, for those who work with him or her, and they’re doing it over multiple generations,” he says.

This allows entrepreneurs to create “engines of wealth creation” fueled by Jesus-centered concepts.

“I think that it’s very important that the Church encourages people who have been given that calling, as long as they can be really clear about why they’re creating this wealth, that this wealth comes from God, and that we give it all back to God and His work.”

The Missions Field of Business

But business isn’t just gets missions going; it can be a mission field in itself. Vijayam thinks a good Kingdom-centered business model measures the impact it has. That can be economic prosperity for the community, a push for a socially just culture, or spiritual growth in businesspeople.

“There are many different ways in which the business itself is a field for ministry with the people you work with, the vendors, the supplies, everybody,” he says.

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

The Next Generation

Vijayam says the Church needs to encourage young Christians interested in business.

“Yes, you can be a tentmaker or you can be a person in the workplace and impact the people around you, but when you create a business, you have much more freedom and flexibility on how you can run the business and how you can show God’s love through the business, especially if you’re the business owner, if you’re the entrepreneur,” he says.

Business means reaching a wider audience with the Gospel, sponsoring the work God is doing, and helping fuel generosity and material assistance.

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, and Vijayam says there is a temptation for business to become about the accumulation. But he also believes that a focus on Christ and a communal effort on the part of the Church could see the provision of resources, guidance, and mentorship to potential Christian businesspeople.

Check out Olive Technology right here.

Find out what InterVarsity is doing for the next generation here.



Header photo courtesy of Unsplash.

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