Mission as Business and Business as Mission

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What is your mission? It is a question consultants like to use to discover and clarify the reason that an organization exists. The response tends to be framed in lofty rhetoric. In Christian organizations the response tends to be even more lofty and more rhetorical. Very understandably and appropriately the expression becomes theological and spiritual for an organization that feels called into existence by God to do the work of God’s kingdom on earth.

The church as the body of Christ on earth has a unique role to play in the greatness of God’s kingdom. Fresno Pacific University and Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary are creatures of the church. They function now as integrated elements of a nonprofit corporation that was brought into existence by the church to help the church fulfill its mission. So a closely related question is: what business are you in? Asking in that way can help clarify that we are in the business of advancing God’s kingdom and helping the church be healthy, wise and both efficient and effective as a living example of the kingdom that is “already but not yet.” The kingdom of Christ has come but that kingdom is still yet to come in its final fullness and glory.

So it is natural, indeed unavoidable, that like most evangelical colleges in America we work constantly and intentionally to integrate our faith in Jesus Christ with all of our learning and every aspect of human endeavor. The kingdom is all-inclusive and eventually everything and everyone point to the glory of the king. Thus, the students and faculty in the School of Business work hard to understand what makes organizations successful; that is, what makes any organization healthy, wise and both efficient and effective in serving the people who depend on it. They seek to develop organizational leaders and followers who understand that, no matter what particular kind of business they are involved in, because they are followers of Jesus Christ, they look at their business as mission. The business you are in is a way of responding to God’s call on your life. The way you make a living is part of the answer to the Lord’s Prayer: May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

So it is equally natural, though not yet so logically unavoidable, that in our biblical seminary the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) also enables church leaders to understand and implement the principles of full engagement in the godly business of making the kingdom of Jesus Christ a more obvious and life-changing reality in the families and communities where their congregations are physically or culturally located. They learn the implications of the transformative Gospel of Jesus Christ. They learn that the mission to which God has called them involves them in the business of direct engagement of helping people not just look for jobs, but create businesses that provide jobs; businesses that meet real human needs; businesses that heal, feed, clothe, protect and comfort.

For many decades, some say for centuries, the church has understood that its mission included this sort of business in the world. But typically the business of God’s mission was separated from the local church. Sometimes people in the church worked in businesses that accomplished these outcomes, and sometimes what are called parachurch organizations have been created for this purpose. But increasingly the local church is understanding that sharing in a time of corporate worship and studying God’s word is just the beginning of the full integration of faith with learning and living.

And so the future for Fresno Pacific University and Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary is to prepare people who can skillfully implement the principle that the business we are in as God’s people is the mission to which Jesus calls all of his followers. For all of us, we must pursue our mission as a successful business, and whatever business we are engaged in, we must do it as part of our response to God’ call to mission.