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The Meaning of Business
Brian Smale

Despite many books and conferences in the past decade that frame business as a divine calling, churches still wonder how best to support the businesspeople in their midst, many of whom feel demeaned for not doing "real" ministry.

Jeff Van Duzer, in Why Business Matters to God: (And What Still Needs to Be Fixed) (IVP), offers Business people guidelines for how to think about their role in God's plan. Christianity Today editor at large Rob Moll spoke with the dean and professor of business law and ethics at Seattle Pacific University about whether the free market system is still the best provider of goods and services, and how churches can help Business people face ethically complex choices.

Why does God want people to go into business?

Two answers: to provide goods and services, and to provide meaningful and creative jobs.

Those are two different purpose statements. One has an internal focus, and one, external. Externally, business is the only institution that creates economic value. A university provides intellectual capital but does not make things. Business takes the ideas and commercializes them. It relies on an array of values from other institutions, but it's the only one that adds value into the system. Business plays a key role by creating products and services.

But not every product a business could make is equally valid in the eyes of God. So a Christian in business should ask not only what will maximize the bottom line, but also what product or service could be made, given the core competencies under his control and the assets he is managing, that would best serve his community.

The second piece is that God designed humans to work. They are made in his image: God is a worker. And ...

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The Meaning of Business
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January 2011

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