How Do We Know If Business Ventures Are Having Kingdom Impact?

0
Water Drops, Drops, Waterdrop, Blue, red

My doctoral research has been to describe what the appropriate impact of Kingdom-based social organizations might be. To put my concern in the form of a set of questions: How can we tell the difference between the social impact of non-Christian versus Kingdom-based social enterprises (aka Business-As-Mission, or BAM companies)? What constitutes a social impact that is Kingdom-based?

I want to propose a conceptual definition of Kingdom-based social ministry, reviewing both the literature and my own semi-structured interviews from The Asbury Project [http://asburyproject.org/], a gathering of Christian social entrepreneurs. In reviewing the literature and investigating current practice, strong relationships exist between Kingdom-based social ministry and both the Spirit of prayer and church-centered moral demands and categories.

To begin, the core of the propositions for defining social ministry that is Kingdom-based is that all manner of Kingdom-based social ministry points to God’s general revelation, which concerns social justice and shalom. It also seeks social responsibility and interdependence for the flourishing of humanity, which focuses on prioritizing others above ourselves and being willing to pursue good life together and to receive good life together.

Next, kingdom-based social ministry is tightly bound up with the local church. The results of this study indicate that the local church serves as a central source of generating Kingdom-based social capital in partnership with BAM companies. By creating space for moral demands and categories, BAM businesses and the local church connect those who want to help with those in need and seek the well-being of all. BAM practitioners and local Christians are inclined to seek others’ interest and holistic transformation of a community. These inclinations are the prime mover of creating kingdom-based social impact.

Here the local church refers to people who begin a spiritual journey towards Christ and cooperate for the sake of God’s kingdom. The local church is like the kingdom of heaven described in Matt 13:33. It does not place Christianity in the center of society. Rather, the local church’s mission seeks, points to, serves, and represents the kingdom of God. As a result, it loves and serves others so that God can transform and change the community. Therefore, kingdom-based social ministry resides in the local church journeying towards Jesus—loving, serving, and blessing its neighbors and community.

Finally, kingdom-based social ministry is based on missio Dei per imago Dei, which means that as God is a missionary, sending God, Christians who are created in the image of God and called as an instrument for God’s mission are also by nature missional and are to give their vocational selves to the world. Specifically, God’s original plan finds the true shalom through our participation. The people of God should engage in God’s mission through a giving of our vocational selves for the benefit of others.[1] Accordingly, kingdom-based social impact is a byproduct of the missionary activity of the Triune God through the commitment of our holistic (thinking, doing, and being) selves to God’s justice, evangelism and shalom.

In conclusion, my study was designed to expand the theoretical definition of Kingdom-based social ministry. This study has shown that what constitutes a Kingdom-based social impact are spiritual and moral values and practices that promote human dignity, social trust, interdependence, and stewardship in the business practice. In generating Kingdom-based social ministry, BAM practitioners must cooperate with the local church in their journey towards Jesus Christ, armed with the Spirit of prayer for divine intervention.

The most obvious finding to emerge from my research is that kingdom-based social ministry is a driver for spiritual and economic development, because it creates kingdom values such as charity, self-giving love, interdependence, and social justice. And it promotes the flourishing of humanity as a whole and seeks the foretaste of God’s kingdom: a Christ-centered culture where “righteousness and peace kiss each other” (Psalm 85:10).

The evidence encountered in this study suggests that kingdom-based social impact helps us determine what goals are of utmost importance for BAM companies. This will provide the foundation for devising appropriate qualitative measures and indicators. The study has demonstrated that BAM companies hold great potential in facilitating social transformation as well as challenging intransigent social boundaries and increasing kingdom-based civic participation. Furthermore, social justice, promotion of good governance, and advocacy for the flourishing of humanity are key components in bringing about kingdom-based social impact accompanied by structural and inner change.

Although the current study is based on a small sample of those interviewed, the results suggest that the religious dimensions of faith, divine intervention, and moral categories should be taken into account as predictor variables in social science studies to investigate their consequences on the community and society. In other words, this seems the way we should begin to answer the question: What Kingdom impact is this commerce venture having?

[1] Amy L. Sherman, Kingdom Calling : Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good / Amy L. Sherman (Downers Grove, IL : IVP Books, c2011., 2011), 17.

SHARE

Samuel Lee is a Ph.D. Intercultural Studies student at Asbury Theological Seminary. His dissertation research focuses on models of combining viable businesses and effectual church planting.

NO COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY