Reaching least reached peoples using business
The Mission Society’s Marketplace Ministries Division releases its strategic plan
(Reprinted by permission from UNFINISHED, Winter 2012, Issue 54)
Reaching the world’s unreached and under-evangelized communities will require “all hands on deck.” This, of course, includes business people. In fact, now, maybe more than ever before, Christian business leaders have the chance to play a pivotal role in transforming society and spreading the gospel, according to Michael R. Baer, businessman, former pastor, and author of Business as Mission.
“Business is another way to reach into unreached areas,” says Denny Brown, who heads The Mission Society’s Marketplace Ministries division, which launched in January of this year . “Business is a model for ministry that sustains itself and gives business owners and managers an opportunity to disciple their employees, because employers are with their workers every day. And a business that treats its people well, provides a good service, and puts money back into the local economy glorifies God.”
A former businessman himself, Denny served from 2003-2011 as The Mission Society’s vice president for advancement. “I felt God calling me to do business as mission,” he says. “I’m thankful to our president, Dick McClain, and to our board of directors for allowing me to pursue this calling.”
Recently, Denny released the plan for the Marketplace Ministry (MPM) Division, which is now being implemented. The plan focuses on three areas as follows.
1. Support missionaries who are engaged in Business as Mission
“One of the most effective ways to begin marketplace ministry is to come alongside missionaries who are already involved, to some extent, in the marketplace,” notes Denny. To that end, The Mission Society’s Marketplace Ministries division provides missionaries with business expertise, advisory support, information, and contacts which they may otherwise have no access to. Marketplace Ministries also networks with other Christian business professionals willing to provide support and counsel to cross-cultural workers.
2. Provide business development/training for church planters
A strategic alliance is being developed with Global Disciples, a ministry that provides training to help national church planters and evangelists start very basic businesses that will fund and sustain their ministries. Global Disciples’ program has been successfully used with nearly 1,000 church planters in a variety of areas and has been translated into 14 different languages. Training is already underway for a select group of Mission Society team members who are appropriately suited for this area of ministry. “As the Lord directs,” says Denny, “we anticipate developing strategies in marketplace ministries that will allow us to address all of our fields, including areas otherwise closed to the gospel but open to business efforts.”
3. Offer marketplace ministry training through local churches
“We have found that many U.S. businesspeople in churches have an interest in marketplace ministry,” says Denny, “but have no idea how to get involved or the opportunities available to them.” The Mission Society’s Marketplace Ministries and Church Ministry divisions are collaborating to develop a seminar. It will (1) update businesspeople on what is happening in the United States and around the world, and (2) show how business is being used to help others and lead them into a growing relationship with Christ. The seminar curriculum will give examples of people successfully engaged in marketplace ministry. It will also provide materials to help and encourage participants to be “on mission” in their local workplaces, in hopes that some will hone their skills and gain confidence to reach out to others around the world. The initial launch of this seminar will be announced at a later date.
“Of utmost importance,” says Denny, “is to note that our Marketplace Ministries activities are being done in connection with missionaries, nationals, and local churches (in the United States and internationally). In other words, business is just one tool, and we trust the Lord will use our efforts to enhance the ministries of others and to help reach into unreached communities with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.”
The Mission Society was formed as supplemental missions sending agency for the United Methodist Church on January 6, 1984. Since then, more than 500 men and women have been confirmed to serve Christ in more than 35 nations. At present, more than 200 Mission Society missionaries currently serve on the field, are in homeland ministry (furlough), or are raising their support to go out for the first time. A support staff of more than 30 people works out of our home office in the Atlanta area.