One such individual shared how she utilized her experience in the world of corporate American to create opportunities to share the gospel around the world. Her business-building expertise proved to be an attractive means of opening up doors into cultures that were closed to traditional mission organizations. She was so inspiring. Her work and educational experience allowed her to go places where missionaries would have encountered closed doors and unreceptive hearts.Using pioneer church planting as her model, she developed an organization designed to train and equip future business leaders. But the underlying objective was to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. She created a Christ-centered business-building curriculum that brings the gospel into the marketplace. To date, she has implemented this business-building, gospel-spreading training program in 47 different countries around the world.
The strategy:Pioneer Business Planting is a five-day consultation focused on extending the reach of the Gospel while creating financial sustainability for church planters and other leaders/believers. The intended outcome is a viable legitimate business that provides a product or service that does not currently exist in the region in order to serve the local community through meeting physical, social, and spiritual needs without competing with other local businesses thus being a light simply by adding value through the business. Each consultation is customized to the needs of the participants through facilitating conversation, active listening, storytelling, and hands-on experiential learning through activity-based exercises.Her concept caught my attention because I immediately saw its potential for the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There is an interesting phenomenon within the local churches of Addis. It is a secular-sacred split that pits the pastor against the lay people. There is a sense in which the pastors view their role as superior to that of the business people who attend their churches. This can lead to an unhealthy and unbiblical sense of unworthiness on the part of the congregants. Without realizing it, they begin to view themselves as second-class citizens. That is why Pioneer Business Planting caught my eye. I could see how this curriculum could create a sense of purpose among local business leaders while, at the same time, helping pastors grow in their respect for and reliance upon these lay leaders. I saw that, in the long run, this cooperation between pastors and the businesspeople within their congregation could open up opportunities for the needy mothers who are part of our program. We coordinated a meeting between Pioneer Church Planting and the leaders of a few local churches in order to discuss the viability of establishing a relationship. The pastors were dumbfounded. They had never considered the someone in business as a viable agent for the gospel. In their way of thinking, businesspeople were typically viewed as “Negade,” a term which, in Amharic, refers to a traitor, or someone who is corrupt and exploits others. As you can imagine, this negative outlook created a sizeable wall of separation between pastors and their congregants. The woman shared the following data:
- Only 3 percent of the local church is comprised of “ministers,” while 97 percent is made up of businesspeople
- Of the 52 parables in the Bible, 45 took place in the marketplace
- Of the 40 divine interventions recorded in the Bible, 39 occurred in the marketplace
- Out of 100 individuals, you may get one to read the Bible, but the rest will “read” the believer
- Pioneer Business Planting is NOT a business course but training on low to “live out life on mission”