A New Challenge for a New Century

Business as Mission


This year WEC celebrates a 100 year heritage in Missions, beginning with C.T. Studd. I guess that if C.T. was here today he would have difficulty recognising the world surrounding him. The advance of technology, globalisation, the growth of the ‘third world’ (or should we say two thirds world) missions force, the decline of colonialism and the global economic crisis being just a few massive changes in the world landscape.


This begs the question, if C.T. was to do it all again in today’s world, would he do missions in the same way? More to the point, would God? These are some of the questions being considered by WEC worldwide, and a driver behind a recent international survey of WECers.  One of those big questions is ‘what about doing business as mission’? Is business a friend or an enemy of missions, a distraction from the true call to evangelism and discipleship, or an open door for the gospel? Certainly, for many ‘Creative Access Nations’ it is no longer possible to enter as a ‘missionary’, and other traditional approaches to doing mission are increasingly untenable. ‘Business as Mission’ or ‘Missional Business’ may be the only way to operate sustainably and credibly in some places.


Missional Business is exactly what it says on the label, true business and true mission. Missional businesses are authentic businesses that operate by the principals and values of the Kingdom of God, aim to be profitable and economically self sustaining, and have a clear intention to extend the Kingdom of God where they operate – including the most unreached places on our planet. Fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28; 19-20) and cross cultural mission is hard wired in to Missional Businesses.


So why do Missional Business? It’s much more than a credible ‘platform’ for being in the country. As a WEC worker running a business in Eastern Europe put it, “just operating a moral, ethical business, in the face of a corrupt society where bribery and exploitation is standard practice is ‘spiritual warfare’”. It provides a natural basis upon which to build relationships and share with people who might never otherwise encounter Jesus (such as staff, customers and suppliers), offers dignity and employment for those with no way out of the cycle of poverty or destructive lifestyles, and builds a positive testimony in communities often hostile to Christians and Christianity.  It also offers a launching pad for the great developing missions’ force of the third world, where home church donor support might not be an option.


That said, Missional Business is by no means without its challenges. For business to be a credible witness, it needs to be well managed, provide an excellent standard of customer service, and survive and thrive in a competitive marketplace. Not an easy call where corruption and long standing insider networks mean that the business is not working on a level playing field. However, neither is church planting ‘easy’, and WEC has been doing that for a hundred years in the most inhospitable environments!


If we are going to embrace Missional Business, and its opportunities and challenges, some things need to change. We need to recruit and train people who are committed and equipped to reach the unreached, and have the management and/or technical skills necessary to succeed in business. And it isn’t just limited to ‘career missionaries’. We need those who will go short term to support teams on the field starting and running businesses, experienced business mentors who will come alongside, and those willing to invest into starting missional businesses. This is not about demanding that all our new or current workers become business people (not a happy thought for most!), or abandoning what is sown into our WEC ‘DNA’ which continues to bear fruit. It does provide an opportunity and a challenge to people who are gifted and called to business, and may never have seen the possibility of using their skills and following God’s call to nations! If that’s you, talk to us!

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