A Theology of Business?

Rick Mattson Uncategorized 7 Comments

The Lord has given me the excellent privilege of hanging out with a lot of business people.

How does the church support them in the marketplace?

It seems to me we speak on the front end and the back end of business spirituality, but not much in the middle.

Front end: We teach about acting ethically and how to reach out to colleagues.

Back end: We teach about stewardship of wealth.

In the middle, however, we’re not really sure how money is made, nor do we always care to know. Just so the stewardship stuff eventually happens.

What would a theology of business look like?

Assuming the Lord Jesus is interested in business practice as a thing in itself, and not only character and witness (front end), and giving (back end), I offer these categories for starters:

  1. A theology of the marketplace: competition, opportunity, investment.
  2. A theology of personnel: supervision, development, and “natural” talents (we know what to do with spiritual gifts, but not natural talents).
  3.  A theology of profit, ambition, and social consciousness.
  4. A theology of business leadership and teamwork.

Integrating evangelical spirituality into the fabric of these practices would take some serious constructive theology. I wonder who’s doing this kind of work?

Comments 7

  1. One who is doing work on theology of ambition in the marketplace is Brian Mahan, who has written Forgetting Ourselves on Purpose: Vocation and the Ethics of Ambition. He is a popluar retreat leader for college students, BTW, and teaches at Emory U, in their Candler School of Theology.

  2. Nice thoughts Rick. Actually lots of people are working at a theology of work and business — including me at Gordon-Conwell in a new faculty post as “Mockler-Phillips Prof of Woirkplace Theology and Business Ethics.” Seattle Pacific U. School of Business (John Terrill, Jeff Van Duzer, et al) are doing great stuff. See Jeff's new IVP book. Will Messenger and the Theology of Work project out of Boston is a big ambitious project. Visit their web site.

  3. I also highly recommend the work of the Crankset Group (www.cranksetgroup.com) as those committed to working the praxis of a business theology. The founder, Chuck Blakeman, wrote the #1 Business Book of 2010 (NFIB), “Making Money is Killing Your Business.” This book addresses many of the concerns you raise in the language of small business owners.

  4. Thanks, Jon, for the info about the Crankset Group. My buddy Bill English, a business owner at Mindsharp.com, is working on the intergration of theo and biz, as well. I'll pass this resource on to him.

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