FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Missions experts at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary said that the kingdom of God can be advanced through the efforts of business professionals who serve around the world. Southwestern’s Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement
hosted its first Kingdom Professionals Conference, Oct. 25-26, where professionals learned about strategies for using business as a platform for missions worldwide.
“This is the point of the spear. This is very innovative,” one expert* said during the conference. And William Goff, professor of ethics at Southwestern and former Southern Baptist missionary, agreed. This conference, he said, presents information “on a cutting edge effort”—commonly called “business as missions”—“for penetrating areas of global lostness.”
“This conference,” Goff added, “is about enabling the IMB to have contact with business people, students and faculty who are interested in this global marketplace initiative.”
For many years, he said, businesses from the United States have engaged the international marketplace, and experts have only recently considered how Christian professionals can make an impact for Christ through their business endeavors. But the challenge, Goff said, is “how to do this effectively and productively.”
According to experts who presented at the conference, effective “kingdom professionals” must be adequately equipped for and called to the professional tasks they are using as a platform for missions. They must gain both physical and legal access into the countries where they desire to serve. Their businesses must be legitimate, cost-effective and beneficial to the community and should provide professionals with opportunities to engage people with the Gospel.
Professionals can gain access to the world, experts said, through tourism, agriculture, business, restaurants, disaster relief, water filtration, mechanics and medicine, as well as many other venues.
“It comes in a thousand different ways,” Southwestern President Paige Patterson said during chapel, Oct. 26. “Here is the opportunity in China for a godly dentist to set up a practice that would enable him to work in the upper echelon of the Chinese people and through that dental practice, to meet the needs of people who would never hear the Gospel in any other way.”
“But, you know it has always occurred to me that the dentist has the perfect situation,” he quipped. “When your mouth is full of all that paraphernalia, you cannot leave. You cannot protest. All you can do is just sit in the chair and listen. What a marvelous opportunity for godly Christian dentists to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Although Southern Baptists must always send out career missionaries to proclaim the Gospel and nurture churches until they “grow to full spiritual maturity,” Patterson urged the future pastors attending Southwestern “not only to call out the career missionary but also to call out those who will go to countries of the world in business and through that business share Christ with people that the career missionary might never reach.”
During a later session, Gordon Fort, vice president of the International Mission Board’s Office of Global Strategy, called churches to stop dabbling in Great Commission endeavors and to enter wholeheartedly into the “spiritual war” that covers this globe.
“There is a global war taking place, and while you may be looking forward to having a crown one day, on this side of eternity the only thing that you get is a helmet,” Fort said. “But I’m not convinced that we as the church have made up our mind to go to war. I think we’re dabbling. I think we’re playing. I think we sit comfortably, and we think we have plenty of time to get involved in this war.”
In every war, Fort said, there are casualties, and his concern is for the casualties of those who have never heard—and may never hear—the Gospel.
“I’m concerned about the people in our world today,” he said, “who have no hope because there is not even the shadow of a cross in their communities. There is no Scripture in their language. There are no churches in their villages. There is not even one believer in their extended families.”
According to Fort, Christians must engage people in the Gospel by all possible means.
“I hope that you have been captured by the idea, by the possibility, by the concept that sitting out amongst our churches … is an asset that, to this point, we have not really utilized to its potential,” he said. “Sitting out amongst our constituents are people with incredible gifts and skills and ability in the professional world.”
Many of these “kingdom professionals” have been informed for years that missions is only for the seminary trained, Fort said. They believe that, as businessmen, doctors, school teachers and agriculturalists, they can play no part in this global spiritual war.
“And I beg to differ,” Fort said, praying that “kingdom professionals” will act upon the Apostle Paul’s words: “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22).
*names have been omitted to protect those serving in secure locations
The gallery is empty.