Thursday, August 26, 2010

Business Captivity of the Church: Concerns Regarding the Impact on Missions

What does the phrase Business Captivity of the Church suggest to you? In addition, how in particular does it affect our highest vocation as Christians, which is to “make disciples of all nations”? To illustrate what I mean by this phrase, let me give a short list of practices that I have observed by BCCers (Business Captors of the Church) that concerns me. Afterward I will make a few comments and then get your reactions.

• BCCers* value specialists over generalists.
• BCCers prefer information over intuition.
• BCCers over-analyze and dichotomize everything.
• BCCers focus on “the main thing” to the exclusion of seeing the whole picture.
• BCCers obsess with the bottom line.
• BCCers fixate on getting the “biggest bang for the buck.”
• BCCers accentuate projects over enculturation and language learning.
• BCCers emphasize “sticking with the strategy” over flexible responsiveness.
• BCCers elevate completing tasks over building relationships.

Admittedly, this list reflects extreme approaches, and each one can be helpful when implemented in appropriate ways and with moderation and balance.

My primary concern is that BCCers tend to be overrepresented in the church on boards and in administrative positions. Prominent among them are business people, executives and administrators in secular firms, bankers, and professionals in other for-profit endeavors. This tendency should not be a surprise, since the orientations and skills represented in the above bulleted list are crucial to responsible stewardship and administration in the church. In addition, people with predilections in these areas tend to gravitate to administrative and leadership roles because their expertise and successes in personal life seems to commend them to similar roles in the church.

The problem is that the perspectives and opinions of BCCers tend to highjack the mindsets of our boards and leaders and become the controlling orientation, leaving little or no room for faith, hope, mystery, and the opportunity to depend upon God. This happens with other voices are not present to provide more balanced perspectives and approaches.

I have observed the “Business Captivity of the Church” in a many denominations here in North America in recent decades, and of even greater concern to me, in mission organizations with ministries around the world. As a result, mission endeavors tend to be evaluated based primarily and at times exclusively upon short-term results with less consideration for breadth, depth, quality and long-term viability.

Rather than provide a list of specific examples at this point, I would welcome your responses. So please give me your reactions:

• What does the phrase “Business Captivity of the Church” bring to mind for you?
• What else would you add to the bulleted list above about BCCers?
• How are BCCers influencing the ministries of your local church, denomination or mission endeavors?
• Could you share any examples that you have witnessed or experienced personally?
• In what ways can the Church respond to bring balance to this trend?

If you would like to send me a personal response instead of commenting on this blog, please share your thoughts in confidence, at the following e-mail address: I am looking forward to hearing from you!

“*” BCCers stands for "Business Captors of the Church"

1 comment:

::athada:: said...


Thanks for broaching this difficult topic. ¨business as mission¨also runs into some difficulties here.

I find myself now in a tough position as an administrator in a south american mission that is trying to start a business to give local women economic alternatives to prostitution. here are some questions running through my mind:

How much to I really on my stingy admin skills to try to make the business profitable?

How much grace do we give the women if their absense at work causes us financial difficulty?

How do we integrate the grace-filled therapy/counseling aspect of our program with the dollars/cents business portion?

The tension is obvious: we can´t forever sink scarce ministry funds in an unprofitable venture, but neither do we use profitability as a barometer of success in ministry.

No answers, just getting me thinking. Thanks.