Sunday, October 8, 2017

Shifting Paradigms

This week I have had the pleasure of teaching Church-based Business as Mission at the Africa Theological Seminary in Kitale, Kenya to the BA Theology Students.  Also present in the classroom were 23 trainers in training for Discipling Marketplace Leaders from Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.  One of the requirements for the students in this class is to journal their thoughts and reflections on a daily basis.  Hearing those journals is one of the highlights for me.

A senior pastor of a Deliverance Church in Kenya shared on the second day of class that paradigms were already shifting for him.  The day before we had discussed the role of business in the world, asking the questions:  "Who is the primary player in alleviating poverty?"  The answer came back, as it frequently does, as "the Church" or "Government." When asked, "Where does the Church get it's money to do ministry?"  The answer was "the members."  When asked, "Where do the members get their money?"  The answer is "Business."  When asked, "Where does Government get its money?"  Answer:  Taxes.  "Where do taxes come from?"  Answer:  Business.  But additionally, business provides a more long-term approach to poverty as businesses produce jobs, which produce salaries, which continue week after week, month after month, year after year AND allow for the creative ability of those made in the image of God to find fulfillment, which brings real happiness.

We then ask, "Who is the primary player in promoting peace?"  This particular pastor answered by saying, "We just completed a Development and Social Change class and the answer for that is the Church."  Question:  What happens in a country when people can't work and provide for their families?  (Unfortunately too many people in the room know too well that happens because of current political struggles.)  Answer:  People become angry and start demonstrating.  The answer is for the primary play for promoting peace is business.

This pastor then shared that in the development and social change class he had just been in that they had not once discussed the role that business plays in peace or poverty alleviation.  It was startling to him to recognize the huge role business plays and how the church leaves them out of the discussion at every turn.  He
went on to say that a further paradigm shift was the realization that businesses are problem solvers, and problems provide opportunities for creativity.

I love hearing the buzz of these discussions during breaks, as people challenge each other and debate this paradigms that are shifting.  Of course, the major shift is the realization that we were created for work and that work can be our act of worship.

It's not lost on us that we were able to bring this training of trainers together because of three generous business people who helped to sponsor it. We are thankful to God for business people who fulfill their calling every day to make this world a better place, to help people to flourish with their goods and services, and who preach to creation every day and help the creation reflect the image of its Creator!
Our International Team of Trainers