If A Company Is Doing Kingdom Work, Is A Christian Label Really Necessary?
I think every Christian who starts a business is probably faced with the question, “Will this be a business run by a Christian or will this be a business that claims the Christian label for itself?” There are a number of ways to go about beginning to answer that question, and many considerations that may complicate it, but the three questions you’ve got to ask first are:
- Are the founders Christians?
- Are Christians the target market?
- Does the business plan depend on the Christian market to succeed?
For us, the answer to the first was yes but the answer to the following two questions was no. Given this we were leaning towards making this a business that is run by Christians rather than a Christian business. But we wanted to make sure we had examined all angles so we asked one more key question:
- Would labelling the business as Christian help the company mission or hinder it?
We’re straight shooters here and are always up front with people but we just didn’t see how labelling the business as Christian was going to help accomplish the company mission and we saw that it would potentially alienate much of our target market; black, indigenous, and/or people of colour (BIPOC) Millennials and Gen Z. What we’ve observed is a skepticism towards Christianity from BIPOC communities due to the church’s history of injustice and inaction when it comes to racism and other important issues impacting these communities.
Particularly in the last 5 years, since Donald Trump first ran for President, there’s been a diaspora of disillusioned Millennials who want nothing to do with church as they’ve known it, due in large part of the American church’s widespread acceptance of Donald Trump, but still want to engage meaningfully with Jesus, Faith, and activism around racial and social justice issues. We know that we can provide a powerful community that will embrace these people who are feeling lost and directionless and help revitalize them to go out and accomplish Kingdom good with their lives. But we know that if we hold on to the Christian label as a business then we’ll be adding another hurdle for these hurting individuals.
And when we think about the pushback we’ll get from a business that is passionate about providing a platform for othered and oppressed voices in America we recognise that it’s not going to be easy. This work will receive resistance from those in power, from those who don’t want change, from those who have hate in their hearts. Battling both racists and jumping through the necessary hurdles to establish credibility and consistency with communities of colour is already a double feature that’s going to take some time to tackle, do we really benefit from adding a third hurdle to the list? I don’t think so.
But does this mean that the business is just a business and there’s no kingdom good that will come out of it? Absolutely not! Quite the opposite, in fact.
When we look at the practical steps we will have to take to build this business successfully and to do justice to the people of colour we’re looking to serve it will not be possible without first winning their trust and showing them we care, as a company and as individuals. In doing this we are almost certainly going to be blessed with many wonderful opportunities to share our own stories, of which faith is a crucial component, and to pursue utilising the communities we will find ourselves in to do some amazing Kingdom work, not least of which is standing with the oppressed and the downtrodden, as Jesus commands. The possibilities for personal pursuit of ministry opportunities that are open to us only because of the work we’ll already be doing are genuinely endless and exciting!
So, while I understand that some people might wish we were a Christian company, the fact remains that we’ve thought through this thoroughly, explored all the options, and prayed for guidance. In our wisdom and discernment, we’ve come to the conclusion that this is a company that is run by Christians and we believe that many fellow Christians will rally around the work we’re doing as it’s good for society, it’s good for the Kingdom of God, and it’s in direct pursuit of the Lord’s calling on our lives as we make his kingdom known here on earth.
Powerful Kingdom work does not have its power diminished due to simply lacking a label!