11.20.2007

BUSINESS AND MISSION

The cover of this month's Mission Frontiers read: "Can Business Be Mission?" I dug in excitedly.

I left feeling a bit unsatisfied. The articles were all over the place, a point hard to connect to the previous point that had been made. There seemed to be a general disdain of business as self-serving, "but Kingdom business can be different" was the responding sentiment. And the notion that an entity might struggle to reconcile doing well with doing good didn't go much further in depth than stating that fact.

Ah, but business and mission is a delicious intersection, ripe with all sorts of things to discuss and probe and unpack. Adam Smith will tell you that individual businesses can be completely self-serving and yet the end result is that all benefit. To the extent that poverty has economic parameters, the fact that for-profit companies have the most powerful levers to eliminate it may have implications for what it means as national governments to implement anti-poverty programs. And missing altogether was the discussion about the role of government in stifling or catalyzing the free markets to provide resources for the under-resourced and opportunities for the marginalized. Missing, for that matter, was any spiritual anchoring such that the eternal agendas of missionaries who evangelize can be somehow connected to the day-to-day work of alleviating human suffering and offering dignity and wealth to those who are unemployed and hungry.

I deeply respect what the US Center for World Mission does, and tend to agree with what they write, so I usually devour their newsletter as soon as I can. But I have to say that this month's issue left me only half-full.
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