Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Is Christian Culture and Business Culture Compatible? by Alex Afriyie

Can we combine business culture and Christian culture or are they incompatible. Is one about worship and the other about greed?

Culture has been defined as our habits and lifestyle. Things we do without thinking about it.
When thinking about Business culture we must go back to the Garden of Eden where we were encouraged to manage the earth, produce, grow and expand (Genesis 1: 28). In fact our work is seen as our worship. Adam was told to ‘till’ the ground. Which can be translated work, manage or serve as the priests did in their worship in the temple (Genesis 2: 15).

This immediately compels us to take away the sacred secular divide. Which means we can no longer do Christian culture in the church and perhaps family but something different in business. If we have a Kingdom understanding then we realise that King Jesus permeates every aspect of our lives and we are to bring His rule and presence into the earth.

Our creation and new creation mandate is to bring Jesus presence into every area of society and rescue it from the decay of the fall. After all the literal meaning in Hebrew of the name Jesus means Yahweh Saves and delivers. Business is a great vehicle for this redeeming of the structures of our society.

Therefore business is only truly successful in the fullest understanding of the word ‘success’, when it not only creates profits but creates profits through things that are constructive for society (Joshua 1: 8).

So the call to business or entrepreneurship is just as much a ministry as the call to work in the church or family or a charity. In fact I believe the church should be the place where we equip entrepreneurs and business people for their calling (Ephesians 2: 10). After all Jesus was originally part of the family business and many of the early disciples were business people. They used their work to spread the gospel. Paul and Aquila and Priscilla had a tent making business, Peter and James were fisherman, Matthew ran a tax collection agency. In fact Paul saw a greater advancement of the gospel when he went back into business.

Some of the greater changes have happened in society when the church has risen up in their callings as business people, educators, artists and politicians. This was seen in remarkable ways in the Victorian era by Christians who created humane working conditions for their staff and saw the abolition of slavery.  They were a product of the Wesleyan revival. As a result of this these Christian entrepreneurs established housing, parks, museums, schools, and hospitals to serve their workers. This had a knock on affect and other businesses had to follow their example or lose out. It produced our modern understanding of an HR department caring for its staff.

Christian culture should affect every aspect of business including the way we sell and make profits. The business is there to diagnose the needs of their clients and then serve them by bringing them from their painful problem into their promised land.

Having worked with my brother when he first started his business in the late eighties (yes, I am that old), I took this approach to selling when recommending computer systems to clients. My brother told me that the clients I brought on board tended to be long lasting customers. Some were still customers 25 years later. His business became a multimillion pound concern. So offering genuine help rather than a quick buck will not only help customers but will also be profitable for a business.  In my business life I also did not shy away from praying for the sick, including a Muslim accountant who was instantly healed and called to the office to let me know.

So we cannot separate Christian culture from business culture. Christian culture, which is Kingdom culture, is what makes not just the church or business work, but the whole world work. Creation is waiting in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed (Romans 8: 19).