When the Business as Mission Manifesto was drafted it was at the conclusion of a unique collaborative effort – an attempt to summarize the year-long work together of more than 70 Christian leaders and business as mission pioneers.
It wasn’t so much that we were declaring ‘our manifesto’. Rather we were drafting a manifesto that we hoped could be embraced and adopted by the church worldwide, and Christian business people in particular. And it has served that purpose.
The Business as Mission Manifesto forms the final chapter of the landmark Lausanne Occasional Paper (LOP) on Business as Mission. As we begin a new process of dialogue and collaboration on business as mission, I am asking: Is its message still fresh for us today? I wanted to revisit the Manifesto to find out!
At one page long the Manifesto is by far the shortest chapter of the LOP, an executive summary if you like, and consists mainly of 9 affirmations and 2 recommendations. It leads us through a rapid fire list of statements about business, about the needs of the world, about the power of the gospel to bring transformation and about following a missional God… and concludes with a challenge to respond. Most of the affirmations are fairly uncontroversial in our generation, but are worth the emphasis…. Others shake things up a little more!
Two affirmations that stand out for me are the first and the last.
The first is that business is essentially good, that it is part of God’s creation and His design. The last is that the church has a major untapped resource in business and business people to meet the needs of the world and to bring glory to God in the market place and beyond. The truth is that business is an essential part of God’s mandate to steward and multiply resources on the earth. As business people submit themselves to God and do business unto Him, wherever He places them, they become a living answer to the prayer ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’.
I believe that this is a message that God is continually stirring up in the church world-wide today. He is stirring the hearts of men and women to grasp these truths and to act upon them.
There are many reasons why the resources of business and business people are relatively untapped when we are thinking about global mission and ‘Kingdom transformation’ in our communities. One major reason is that so many Christian business people just don’t see themselves as change-agents for God in the context of their business.
Thus the Manifesto makes 2 specific recommendations:
- We call upon the Church world wide to identify, affirm, pray for, commission and release business people and entrepreneurs to exercise their gifts and calling as business people in the world – among all peoples and to the ends of the earth.
- We call upon business people globally to receive this affirmation and to consider how their gifts and experience might be used to help meet the world’s most pressing spiritual and physical need through Business as Mission.
I can make no more powerful a recommendation today! Indeed I spend my working life in the continued effort of spreading this core message.
The Manifesto ends with a final challenge: The real bottom line of Business as Mission is AMDG – ad maiorem Dei gloriam – for the greater glory of God.
The challenge is that we accept right down into the fibres of our being that we are here to bring glory to God in our every action and transaction. Yes there will be earthly glories along the way, the Board of Directors may bask in the glory of a successful year or the sales team in the glory of a record month…. But I would go as far to say that if God has His way ALL business would ultimately bring glory to Him, that the ‘as Mission’ tag would become redundant. That would be something!
In the meantime, I hope we will continue to challenge the whole church world wide to take up this Manifesto. Let us spread its message and its agenda… Let us continue to call upon business people globally… I know God is!