Mixing Business with Mission

by Bryan Hilton
Posted on 1st August 2008

There was a recent conference in London, and articles pop up from time to time in mission agency newsletters and the Christian press more generally, talking about "Business as Mission". So what makes it so important? Why should you take the few minutes to read this?

The fact that it gets increasingly difficult to obtain visas to visit many developing countries. But, as well as the Gospel, these countries badly need the experience and skills that British business and professional people can offer. And the business community worldwide is usually less reached by evangelists than other sectors.

Terminology varies: "tentmaking", "Business for Mission", "Business as Mission", etc. But they have in common the God-given desire to help extend His kingdom, through the use of personal expertise and experience in the relationships which can be developed in the workplace.

If you believe God may be speaking to you in this way, where do you start? Here are some basic steps to guide you:

  1. Seek confirmation from a Christian you trust. Speak to someone who could understand the issues and dynamics involved. This person might be part of your church leadership, or maybe someone outside your church environment. You may also want to advise your family. What you may be about to do could change your life forever! And it may not be an easy, or popular, path to follow.
  2. Ask some trusted Christian friends to pray specifically, as you start to move forward. If your home church is supportive, seek their support.
  3. If you already have some interest in a particular country, make contact with a UK mission agency. Usually this work is best done with the backing and training that an agency can provide. There are many complex issues of language, living and working cross-culturally, which they can help prepare you for.
  4. Finance. In all probability you will have to fund your own travelling and living expenses. You need to think through how you will do this - even if you expect to be able to earn income in the country you've chosen. Where will your funds come from? How can you raise them?

In conclusion, a few more questions to ponder, as you start on the road of enquiry:

  1. If you have a family, what might be the impact upon them of your taking off in this direction?
  2. Realistically, would you be able to commit to a long-term assignment overseas (maybe three years) - or would short-term (three months, for example) be more appropriate?
  3. How good are you REALLY at what you do? To succeed overseas you will have to be convincingly good.
  4. Have you ever undertaken a personality test? You need to know how well you will cope with the complex rigours of this type of work. Some agencies will help with this, to see how you would fit into a team.

Bryan Hilton has been the Coordinator of Global Connections' Business and Mission Forum. For 20 years Bryan worked for British international companies, exporting products to the Middle East, Africa and Western Europe. For the following 20 years he has run his own management consultancy and training business. During this period he also worked in Eastern Europe, and increasingly saw how he could become a "business missionary".