There are five basic business functions that comprise the activities of a Christian business.
Function 1: Evangelism
There is no tool more effective for evangelism than a business dedicated to the Lord. Not only can a dedicated owner or manager win employees but, similarly, so can suppliers, creditors, and customers. The key here is the “walk,” not the “talk.” Too often, a Christian owner or manager makes a superficial commitment to serve God through the business. But, because of inconsistencies in the authority’s life, the employees don’t respond very well, and the resolve weakens. After a couple of months, there is hardly any change at all, and within a year things are back to normal.
Function 2: Discipleship
Evangelism is sharing Christ’s message of salvation with the lost. Discipleship is training Christians to grow stronger in their faith. In a business, this effort should be directed by the owner or manager to those immediately under his or her authority. It is they who will then be able to disciple the others under their authority. “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). “That’s well and good,” you say, “but what if my managers aren’t saved?” If they aren’t saved, then you simply back up to Function 1.
Function 3: To Fund God’s Work
A business is the best tool ever created for funding God’s work. A properly run business can generate excess capital to meet needs, share the Gospel, and still continue its day-to-day operations. There are many creative ways to use these funds to further God’s work. Obviously, giving to your church and to ministries is good and it is necessary to do God’s work, but there are many ministries available within the business itself. For instance, several Christian businesses have hired full-time counselors who work with employees that have personal problems. Often, when one business is too small to afford a counselor, several businesses have combined to use a common counselor. Also, many businesses have funds available for needy employees. Others provide cassette tape lending libraries and books as internal ministries to employees. If Christians who control businesses would realize that God has provided the business to further His kingdom, the question of what to do with retained earnings would be answered.
Function 4: Provide for Needs
A business must provide for the needs of the employees, creditors, customers, and owners. This is done by paying salaries, paying for supplies and equipment in a timely fashion, and providing a quality product at a fair price. In our modern business environment, the principle seems to be to meet the owner’s needs, wants, and desires first, and then pay the employees what is necessary to keep them placated. Many creditors are paid late, or not at all, and the customers are viewed as a necessary evil. All too often we find that the owners feel like it’s them against us, and the owners come first.
If a Christian business owner accepts meeting needs as a normal part of God’s plan, that business will play an effective role in evangelism and discipleship. When employees know that those in authority put the needs of others ahead of their own, they will respond. Unfortunately, what is happening in most businesses, Christian and non-Christian alike, is that the workers are treated as expendable commodities. It’s little wonder that often an undeclared war exists between management and labor. God’s Word tells us that we will reap whatever we sow. This principle stands true for business, just as it does for other areas. Sow caring into employees, and you will reap loyalty. Sow disinterest, and you will reap distrust.
Function 5: To Generate Profits
Any business must be able to make a profit if it is to continue operations. Sometimes Christians seem to believe that God will bless them super-naturally, even if they ignore every pretense of good management. If you believe that, you haven’t studied God’s Word very thoroughly. God’s Word directs us to think and plan. “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). I have counseled enough Christians in business to know that many claim to operate by faith when, instead, they are being slothful. God’s Word does not teach us to sit on our hands, waiting for Him to reveal His perfect will. We are to be active. In other words, we are to be participants in God’s plan, not observers of it. “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat” (Proverbs 13:4).