Business People and Ministry

Historically, the Christian movement has pretty much said four things to business people:

1. “Give us your money.”
2. “Get involved with the local church. But all too often in the modern era that may mean work as an usher, serve on a board, teach fifth grade Sunday School, or undertake some other task usually unrelated to your vocation.”
3. “If you really love Jesus, give up your business/professional career, go to seminary, and become a real person of the cloth.”
4. “We have this business manager’s job at the church or this CFO’s role in the organization and we really need someone to deal with the filthy lucre. Of course realize, that if you ever take such a role, you’re really not in ‘ministry’ and those duly ordained are doing the real stuff.”

How sad.

But there much better ways – when our messed up theology about vocation gets fixed- whereby those called as business men and women in the marketplace can make a huge kingdom contribution through the use of their gifts and business acumen. More to come.

5 Responses to “Business People and Ministry”

  1. Richard Oliver Says:

    You have recognized a sad truth. The reality is that the workplace, whether an office or a retail store, is the richest mission field in America. It is in the business world that Christians have an opportunity to declare Jesus’ truth and love to many people who currently have no interest in attending a church. There are many hurting and needy people in any business, if you merely stop and listen with your heart. As a first step, it is not hard to find someone with a major life problem who is willing to accept your prayer, if you simply ask.
    Witnessing at work, however, requires a different approach than in church. A Christian may need to lay the groundwork for a verbal explanation of the gospel and God’s redemptive work in their life by first witnessing with his or her actions and attitudes. To have credibility, a Christian must have at least begun to surrender all aspects of his or her life to our Lord.
    I look forward to your future commentary on this topic.

  2. phil Says:

    I like that quote – v. challenging. Do you have a source for it?

  3. innes Says:

    I wonder if we are beginning to see a role reversal? Historically, as you said, the non-vocational minister has been seen as a “support function” to the vocational ministers. Could it be that the role of the vocational minister is morphing into an enabling function for non-vocational ministers? Rather than being at the centre of the action, the vocational minister is focused on equipping (ala Eph 4:12) the business men and women to be “salt and light” in the world.

    As Richard said, looking forward to future installments.


    ps. How is your daughter?

  4. Sam Says:


    Your words carry weight particularly in light of your background and vocational experience …from U.Va., to Harvard, to JAG and now a long career as a corporate attorney in LA, you have lived what I am writing about. May God give you incredible grace to be the presence of Christ in that downtown highrise where God every day has providentially placed you. May you and those around you who follow Jesus be church in the true and biblical sense in such a missional context.


    Anything that could enable Ephesians 4 to be more of a reality would certainly be welcomed. In my experience, such a biblical perspective on work has been true for men and women who have been the most effective people in vocational minnistry. They have gotten it and lived it as you described …the masses do the ministry and the leaders lead and help equip them in their calling. Way too often, that forumula has been turned around: leaders are hired to do the ministry and the masses vote and make decisions. Ugh.

  5. Sam Says:


    It’s not a quote. It’s my own commentary.

    – SM

Leave a Reply