Informing Mission Strategies Through A Theology of Work
The purpose of this dissertation is to illuminate a growing global need for business as a context for mission and propose a model of business that holds promise for building sustainable spiritual movements. The premise is that God's biblical mandate is to take the gospel to all the nations. In this generation, however, those countries that are least-reached with the gospel tend to be those countries that are most closed to traditional missionaries and are becoming increasingly more stringent in their visa requirements. Furthermore, even countries previously open to Christian missionaries have closed their borders to religious activity (or what is perceived as religious activity) following the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks and the global war on terror. Into such a context of international fear and suspicion this generation of ministers finds itself thrown. God's historic mandate remains immutable, but the means to fulfilling it must adapt to this new global environment. Business as context for mission may be one tool to help fulfill the Great Commission and build God's all-nation Kingdom mosaic.
The academic piece of this dissertation will include this abstract, an overview, and proposal for a theology of work, a description of the current need for business as a context for mission ventures, a review of some of the literature which informs this issue, research specifications, and a postscript evaluation of the research project. Part two of the dissertation is intended to be a manuscript for a book entitled Movement-Building Businesses, which will hopefully be useful to individuals and missions agencies contemplating business as a means to facilitate mission. Chapters 1 through 3 of the book
will focus on God's missional mandate, globalization, and theology of work, which together reinforce the need to pursue business as a vehicle for twenty-first century mission efforts. Chapters 4 5 are an overview of the philosophy behind movement-building businesses and an examination of recent attempts to implement such missions. Chapter 6 presents a model for establishing businesses that promise to create sustainable spiritual movements. Chapter 7 is a detailed account of one business venture in a predominantly Muslim context, in which I was intimately involved. Chapter 8 highlights significant lessons learned through study and experience, and identifies transferrable concepts for other movement-building business endeavors.
It is hoped that readers will gain a greater appreciation for work as a conduit for sustainable ministry and the potential of businesses to create contexts for taking the gospel to today's least-reached nations. An even greater desire is that through this study and the experiential lessons learned, yet another avenue will be opened for God's Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Bakke Graduate University, 2011