A Biblical Theology of Business (and Church Growth)

A few weeks ago I came across this video from the Gospel & Culture conference in NYC.  It features Jeff Van Duzer, dean of the business school at Seattle Pacific University giving a message entitled, “A Theology of Business.”

I have watched it a few times now and gleaned much.  It it is a great biblical-theological treatment of business that grounds itself in the four-fold movement of redemption history–Creation, Fall, Redemption, New Creation.

However, it is more than just a good presentation for businessmen who want to follow in the footsteps of Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-a.  It is a good paradigm for church leaders and churches to apply to the local church.  Usually, I am slow to make such claims because I think too many popular business practices have shaped churches.  Too little attention has been given to what the Bible says.  (Yes, I have drunk the punch served by 9Marks).

This is where Jeff Van Duzer is different.  He builds with the Scriptures and he gives a good model for business and for those doing God’s business in the local church.  Tonight our church leaders are going to watch the video and discuss.  I encourage you to do the same.  Spend an hour thinking through Van Duzer’s main points, and how, if they were implemented in your business, Bible college, or area of ministry, they would glorify God by producing good fruit.

If it helps here are a number of questions to consider

  1. What does Jeff Van Duzer critique?
  2. Some people say business is bad, others that it is good, even messianic.  What is wrong with these polarities?
  3. I would propose that his comments about “business” could easily be translated to “church growth.”  What is church growth?  And what should we think about it?
  4. He speaks of two issues: The PURPOSE and PRACTICE of business.  What are the two purposes for business that he mentions?  How do these contrasting visions of business relate to Mark 10:44-45?
  5. According to Jeff Van Duzer, should profit be the means or the end?  Translating to the church, should “numbers” be an end or a means?  What does it mean that numbers are a means in the church?
  6. In the church, who are the “shareholders”?  Who are the “customers”?  Who should we serve? Who are we serving?
  7. Using his illustration of blood circulation, what does a church that only circulates blood look like or do?  What characteristics does it have?
  8. What does a living and healthy church have?  What are the metrics of a healthy church?
  9. When leaders make decisions, Van Duzer says that they ask one of two questions:         (a) Which of these choices will maximize my return or investment?  Or, (b) Given our core competencies, how can we best employ them to serve others.  When we make decisions in the church, which are we asking? 
  10. When we make decisions are we making them to (a) increase our numbers or (b) increase our faithfulness?  Do we trust that if we focus on being “boringly biblical” that God will bless our church?  Or do we need to add to the message?
  11. Using the illustration of levies, Van Duzer speaks of limitations on pursuing capitol.  What limits do we have / should we have in our ministries?  Can we do anything or are their delimiting factors?  What are they?
  12. What in our day and age do we need to guard against?   What temptations do churches face who want to grow?
  13. What was the difference between the Gold Medal and Silver Medal companies surveyed by Jim Collins?
  14. What should a mission of the church include?

Now, go do God’s business (John 15:1-8).

Sola Deo Gloria, dss