– Chris Patton
Eight years ago, I realized that God wanted me to acknowledge His ownership of our business and to begin running it from an eternal perspective – as a platform for Christian ministry. I was completely in the dark as to what an automobile dealership group would actually look like in that light, but I was willing to try! Little did I know that I was in for a ride!
Over the past eight years, we have transformed His business from the ground up. While it is not perfect, God has used His business to impact many people for eternity. There is so much I have learned during this process that I am eager to share it wherever I go with whoever will listen!
Just over a year ago, I began a blog called “Christian Faith at Work.” Though I have never had a blog before, it seemed like an efficient way to spread the word about Christian business. I am writing it to business owners and leaders who are trying to figure out how to integrate their Christian faith into their businesses.
I want to share the resources I have accumulated over the past eight years, as well as real-life examples from my experiences. I also want to teach others how to run their business from an eternal perspective. They can not only learn from the resources I have gathered, but they can also interact with someone who is actually doing it, learning from my mistakes and victories.
It was through this blog that I met Rajeev Mahan. Rajeev and I exchanged emails after he commented on one of my blog posts. After several weeks of communication, he asked me to teach members of his church about marketplace ministry. I was flattered, but there was one problem. His church is in Chandigarh, India!
He told me how we could use Skype to bring my teaching into his church. If I would only be willing to prepare the material and teach it, he would set up the event and do the translating! I would not even have to leave my office!
At first, it sounded crazy to me. I did not feel qualified to teach into that culture. I had many questions, but Rajeev assured me he would handle the translating of the language as well as the cultural nuances. All I had to do was be willing to dedicate the time. Not sure how well it would go, I agreed to try it!
We have now held three of these conferences in India. The audience has ranged from 15-50 at a time. One of the audiences was mostly made up of pastors from various villages near by. In each case, we have spent between two and three hours online teaching, praying, and answering questions.
My material has been very basic as their Bible knowledge is limited (even some of the pastors). Before going into any depth in discussing how marketplace ministry works, I have focused on the following main topics:
- Christians should have an eternal perspective.
- True ownership of everything is God’s.
- We are to love God with our whole life – not segments.
- We are commanded to go and make disciples.
From there, I have simply applied these truths to the marketplace. There is nothing amazing about the material – just simple biblical truths applied to business. But the potential impact is incredible!
If you had told me a year ago that I would have the opportunity to teach about Christian business to an international audience, I would have called you crazy. But that is exactly what God has caused to happen.
Simply by using readily-available technology, along with the knowledge and experience He has given us, we have found a creative way to reach around the world and across cultures to make disciples. I promise you this – if God can use me to do this, then He can do the same with you!
Chris Patton is President of the Mike Patton Auto Family in LaGrange, Georgia. With his brother (and partner) Brian, Chris is a third-generation owner. The Mike Patton Auto Family has approximately 95 employees and retailed over 1,800 new and used vehicles in 2012. Chris is also an active member of the C12 Group.