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Investing in People or Profit: What Really Matters in Missional Businesses?

We had a choice, right from the very outset: let market forces and profit or a strategy of enabling evangelism, discipleship and church-planting dictate how our missional business ran. This is how it played out for us:

The government was keen for us to open a boutique hotel in a major tourist town. A great business opportunity in a key location, but we realised we’d be spending the majority of our time with foreign tourists in a business that operated 24/7 and wouldn’t have much opportunity to reach the local community.

We settled on an educational business project, because a school where we could teach various international trade languages and computer skills to adults would help build regular involvement with local people.

As we’ve grown, it’s been our privilege to train many involved in the leadership of our city. To name a few examples, we’ve taught senior government officials, directors of hospitals, and high ranking police officers. Currently, an air traffic controller sits along side a midwife who is studying in the same class with business people and some college teachers.

The only criticism we have received has been from visiting Christian business people who claim our missional business is not a ‘real business.’

If they mean that we’re not out and out capitalists, they’re right. However, our business is genuine. We teach, we pay wages and taxes and we make a profit commensurate with the economy of the community.

We could make more money if we operated 6 or 7 days a week, but our business is driven by missional approach, not the bottom line. This means our expatriate teachers only offer classes three evenings a week, which allows them time for language learning and the opportunities to build relationships with people outside class.

On the rare occasions we have been questioned about why we take such a gentle approach to business and education, our reply is that we are in the business of building people, not running an education factory. This explanation has had a very positive response.

And yes, we are fulfilling the mission that we set at the start. The kingdom of God is advancing and we are delighted to be a part in this greatest of enterprises.

OMF workers along the Mekong river.
This article originally appeared in our Billions magazine edition ‘International Rescue’ September – December 2013.

Will you pray for Missional Businesses?

  • Give thanks for how this missional business is building relationships, serving the community and pointing people to Jesus. Pray for much fruit to come from it.
  • Pray for missionaries looking to set up missional businesses who have choices to make about business models, products and investment decisions. Pray for wisdom in all these decisions so that God will be glorified through these businesses.
  • Pray for the relationships built through the business – that people may be drawn to consider Christ through their interaction with the business.


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