DO BUSINESSES RUN WITH CHRISTIAN practices and principles truly enjoy greater prosperity? To answer this question, we first need to define what a Christian-run business is, understand what it does, and look at examples from Scripture and from the modern marketplace. This book examines these examples, observing how their leaders reflect the character of God while building businesses with God-honoring missions and identities.
Having a Christian mission involves so much more than simply introducing Christian practices into a business (e.g., prayer, peacemaking, or tithing). Having a Christian identity involves much more than simply listing and teaching biblical principles. We must first understand how God communicates His character and expects us to reflect His character.
While Christian business conferences and publications promote hundreds of books about Christian business, very few books attempt to communicate a fully realized understanding of business leaders' responsibilities to know God and reflect His divine character. This book seeks to fill a void among Christian business books by emphasizing how God communicates through covenants.
A study on the covenants in Scripture encourages readers to observe how God's covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David follow a pattern that is reflected later in Christ, the foundation of a New Covenant (Heb. 4:15). The covenants in the Old Testament and the New Testament provide a lens for studying and knowing the character of the Triune God. Seeing how Christ and the patriarchs consistently reflected God's character and engaged the cultures around them helps us understand how we should honor God. The authors of this book pray, like Apostle Paul when writing to the Ephesians, that readers will "be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:16-19).
The fullness of God and the six main elements of God's relationship with man are reflected through Biblical covenants that teach us about the identity and mission of successful Christian-run organizations, including businesses. Christian business leaders often end up communicating the six elements of God's character more actively than they realize. When the authors interviewed the employees and associates of these Christian leaders, they discovered that these leaders have consistently understood and conveyed 1) God's revelation, 2) His purposes, 3) divine leadership structures, and 4) Christ-centered principles and priorities. These result in 5) a "quadruple bottom line," and 6) scalable business models. These six elements are explained in the following introduction and at the start of each of the six sections in this book.1
Knowing the six main elements of divine character helps leaders confront sin in their own lives and in the organizations they lead. Studying the biblical and practical application of these elements encourages repentance and fosters a deeper personal relationship with God and a conversion of the heart. Only then can leaders walk in the Spirit, follow Christ's examples, and embrace teachings from our Father. This book explains all these concepts in the context of covenants.
Teachings about biblical covenants reveal how believers who know God have a context for integrating His principles into business practices. Business leaders who understand the covenantal character of God know about the source of divine principles, the purpose behind the principles, examples of leaders who model the principles, teachings about the meaning of the principles, clear examples of blessings related to following the principles (or the negative consequences of neglecting the principles), and the deeper relationships and greater prosperity that can result from reflecting divine character through our relationships with others.
A covenantal perspective on Scripture helps us deepen our understanding of Christ: specifically, His character as the mediator of the new covenant, and the covenantal institutions overseen by leaders who respect the authority of Christ and His Church. This is most evident as Christ works through His Church to reconcile all things to Himself. God placed Christ far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, not only to be head over the Church (Eph. 1:21-22), but to reconcile all things—on earth and in heaven (Col. 1:18-20). Throughout the centuries, the Church has established covenants and maintained covenantal relationships by means of Christ's established Church discipline: blessing the faithful and withholding blessings from the unfaithful. These principles of discipline are meant to encourage the peace and purity of the Church, encouraging its members to place their hopes in God (1 Tim. 6:17).
Christ works to reconcile all things, including all business leadership structures, to Himself by putting in place business leaders who heed church authority when stepping off the church campus to engage in the marketplace. Covenantal principles apply vertically in the believer's relationship with God and then horizontally in relationships with other believers. The same leadership structures that maintain peace and purity within Christian churches also apply to families and businesses run by Christians. This book explains how Christian-run businesses can learn from mature churches when applying covenantal teachings to maintain pure and peaceful relationships, while also honoring God and building productive teams.
This understanding of covenant unites the three authors in their diverse approaches to Christian business. Joyce holds a Ph.D. in organizational development. Before helping to establish a successful telecom company, Mike earned degrees in business and law. Like Mike, Tim has degrees in business and law, as well as a vast amount of practical experience working with Christian business leaders. All three authors hold a firm belief in the authority of Scripture and the application of the biblical covenant model when helping business leaders reflect divine teachings about business success. Despite their diverse religious backgrounds— Joyce and Tim being dedicated Protestants, and Mike being a devout Catholic—all 3 co-authors have developed a profound understanding about how the covenantal perspective of Scripture can bring people together while fostering teamwork and mature accountability.
While contributing as an author in this book, Joyce also works to emphasize the value of translating covenantal principles into leadership and organizational practices and helps to equip business leaders to reflect love and holiness. Her goal is to encourage leaders to apply an indepth understanding of Scripture and to integrate this understanding into their day-to-day business practices.
Mike, while continuing his life-long studies in management and organizational theory, spends his time writing about how there is only one book that has the best influence in business: The Bible. Mike's writing is fueled by a deep conviction that business leaders must understand the Bible in the context of modern management. The proof lies in the most successful and the longest-lasting organization ever built: Christ's Church. Mike has observed first-hand how the leadership principles seen in the Church have worked in business. He saw the fruit of this, not only in the financial success but also in the affirmation that team members feel when they fulfill a calling that honors Christ and realizes the unique, special, and incredible calling that God has created for each of them. His mission extends beyond the Church to every organization led by those who want to learn how to apply biblical principles to management and organizational theory.
Tim has spent 40 years advising wealthy clients, many of whom are founders and owners of Christ-centered businesses, as a lawyer and/or wealth manager. Even before writing his master's degree capstone paper on Christian business in the early 1980s, Tim sought to understand and apply biblical principles of business. When he was introduced to covenant theology through the works of theologians like Vern Poythress and Ray Sutton, he quickly found a framework for explaining why some theological systems lead us into a deeper relationship with Christ while other systematic theologies fail to do so. The covenantal framework articulated by Poythress, based on earlier covenant theologians' writings dating back to the early seventeenth century2, can now guide 21st-century businesses, as explained throughout this book. Tim firmly believes that by integrating these biblical principles into business practices, Christian-run businesses will enjoy greater prosperity.