Sacred-Secular, Miscellaneous, July 2011 (2/2)

August 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Freedom of Religion Has to Be Freedom for Everyone As the views of evangelicals become increasingly distasteful to many in prevailing culture, some may use these same arguments when they ban your building. How you treat our Muslim minority may very well point to how the majority culture will treat Christians one day.

Scripps: Religion: U.S. evangelicals see secularism as a threat In fact, 92 percent of evangelical leaders from the United States who took part in a new Pew Forum survey said they are convinced that secularism is a “major threat” to the health of evangelical Christianity in their land, a threat even greater than materialism, consumerism and the rising tide of sex and violence in popular culture.

Secular Extremism, Evangelicals, and Rick Perry’s “Response” Perry’s announcement of the meeting was followed by the predictable news that secularists at the Freedom from Religion Foundation have sued him, trying to have a federal court forbid the rally as a violation of the First Amendment’s ban on an establishment of religion.

Ed Stetzer – Nomadic Churches in USAToday Churches without buildings are in the news– on the front page of USA Today, no less. There are obviously some legal issues here. I am not a lawyer and have never played one on television, but I think the problem with the NYC school ruling is that it is discriminating on the basis of the “content of the speech.” In other words, they rent to other groups, but want to ban churches because churches talk about God.

Week 1 – religious communities of practice at different scales Through Putnam’s eyes, we looked at one meeting on one morning of one of a Saddleback Church’s morning prayer breakfasts. Over oatmeal, omelets, and French toast 10 professionals enlist each other’s help in prayer and offer support and sympathy in dealing with everything from the challenge of a new client to grief over recent bereavement. Caren Levine sums it up: I am particularly struck by the intimacy of the group, the lay facilitation and distributed leadership, and how they create sacred space together in a public venue which in itself seems to communicate that sacred community can be found anywhere.

Christian festivals: A broader church AT LEAST 25 Christian music festivals are held each summer in America, but they have never catered for theological liberals. Until this year, that is, when the Wild Goose Festival—named after a Celtic symbol for the Holy Spirit—kicked off on June 23rd on 72 wooded acres in eastern North Carolina, not so far from the intellectual hub of Raleigh-Durham.

Sacred-Secular, Miscellaneous, July 2011 (1/2)

August 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ever Hear of the First Amendment? An Argument to Watch Monday’s edition of USA Today included an opinion column by a Muslim woman that argued–quite straightforwardly–that the United States government should force a nondiscrimination policy on gender in all places of worship. Asra Q. Nomani, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, argues that the Internal Revenue Service should move to deny tax-exempt status to any place of worship that holds to different roles for men and women.

 

Anti-Bias Rules Upheld A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that San Diego State University had the right to enforce anti-bias rules when deciding whether to recognize religious student groups. At the same time, the court found that there may be evidence that the university applied those rules inconsistently, which would be unconstitutional

 

The State v. Religious Freedom The ACLU has filed suit against a Vermont inn over the decision of its Catholic proprietors not to host a lesbian wedding. The suit is filed under Vermont’s Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act, which predated the state legislature’s approval of same-sex marriage in 2009.

 

News: Church, State and a University Hospital A proposal to merge the University of Louisville’s teaching hospital with a Roman Catholic health system — which would prohibit the hospital from providing sterilizations, abortions and other procedures that go against Catholic beliefs — has provoked an uproar in Kentucky, where residents and lawmakers are questioning the role of religiously affiliated health providers in public medical education and health care.

 

Modernizing Secular Addiction Recovery Men and women of all ethnic backgrounds and religious or nonreligious affiliations suffer from debilitating addictions, which have detrimental effects on millions of lives. Addiction recovery treatments shouldn’t discriminate either, but Alcoholics Anonymous does. AA’s Toronto administration recently removed two of its affiliate groups in the area for not holding to its religious standards, which include a belief in God, as stated in the organization’s “Twelve Steps” to recovery.

 

Islam’s philosophical divide: Dreaming of a caliphate Of the 50-plus countries where Muslims are in the majority, only two (Indonesia and Mali) enjoy political liberty as defined by Freedom House, a New York-based monitor of human rights and democracy.

 

A tale of two flotillas Due to severe restrictions on Islamist political parties throughout most of Turkey’s history, charitable foundations and organizations have taken on a particularly important role in developing and defining Islamic politics in a country that is constitutionally secular, but, at least nominally, 99.9 percent Muslim.

The Providence of God in Organization: Solidarity of the Sacred and Secular

August 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

In 1905 Weber argued that Puritan ethics and ideas influenced the growth of capitalism. Weber clarified the paradox that religious devotion generally came with a rejection of wealth and possessions by defining spirit of capitalism as the idea that certain types of Protestantism favored rational pursuit of economic gain and that worldly activities had been given positive spiritual and moral meaning. Weber traced origins of the Protestant ethic to the Reformation, though he acknowledged respect for secular everyday labor as early as the Middle Ages. Durkheim (1915) deemed the boundary between sacred and the profane to be the fundamental distinctive of religion: “religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden.” The profane, in contrast, involved commonplace individual concerns. Durkheim explicitly stated that both sacred and profane could be either good or evil. Weber lamented the loss of religious underpinning to capitalism’s spirit led to an involuntary servitude of man to mechanized industry. It is within this context in which I see a need to position a research program. There is a huge need to use sociology of religion and organization theory to study the tensions between the sacred and secular, church and business.

The reason for an investigation is that the church fails to improve the business community’s gift of engaging with the sacred in daily business. The Church should be the best resource we have for leading an integrated and balanced business life; however competitive dynamics between the sacred and secular have led the church and business to separation. There needs to be a research program seeks to discover how church and business can work together for the profit of people both inside and outside the church.

Reference:

Durkheim, Emile. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, (1912, English translation by Joseph Swain: 1915) The Free Press, 1965., new translation by Karen E. Fields 1995

Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and “The Spirit of Capitalism” (Penguin Books, 2002) translated by Peter Baehr and Gordon C. Wells, pp.9-12


Business as Mission, The Galtronics Story, A Tool for Integration and Conclusion, Highlights (5/5)

August 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

…why even concern oneself about these things?  Why not keep your company totally secular (86)?

…”love”. If we love Jesus and know He loves every man, woman and child in the world, we are motivated by that love to tell others about it (86).

Therefore, we want to avail ourselves of every vehicle possible to make known God’s love (86).  Business offers a strategic vehicle for doing just that (86).

The Bible talks about ‘ministry’ as the role of a servant for Christ’s sake (86).

In our day, we have come to associate the term ‘ministry’ with paid professional clergy, thus creating an artificial distinction between clergy and laity (87).

One of the hallmarks of the Protestant Reformation was emergence of a principle known as “The Priesthood of All Believers” whereby reformers asserted all believers stand as equals before God, all with gifts of serving in some capacity and all with equal responsibility to do so (87).

This was in contract to “clericalism” a view held by the Holy Roman Catholic Church and one, which claimed clergy, had a special, more important relationship with God than the masses (87).

Eph. 4:11-13 He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

We know in the heavenly realm there are powers and principalities watching what is happening on earth as God works out His plan through his Church (88).

One group is in submission to the Father and is committed to glorifying Him in all they do.  The other group is in rebellion against the Father and is seeking to undermine His will (88).

Each individual in the Body of Christ has been given at least one gift and with it comes an expectation to serve (88).

Unfortunately, most pastors would admit too often they end up doing the ministry for the saints instead of preparing the saints for ministry (88).

Has the Church ever really succeeded in making the switch from clericalism to “The Priesthood of All Believers?” (88).

…if you expect different results, you have to change your methods (89).

In a year’s time, they have hundreds, if not thousands of conversations with other people.  Here they encounter many unbelievers, many who have never had a significant conversation about who Jesus is (90).

Could not these relationships become a bridge of trust across which the good news about Jesus Christ could be communicated (90)?

Could not these believers begin to pray regularly for their co-workers, customers, clients, vendors and suppliers that those who don’t know Jesus could come to know Him (90)?

Could they not in some cases begin a Bible study and invite some associates to join them (90)?

What forces cause Christians among both the 3% full-time workers and 97% paying parishioners to accept as normative these barriers that divide so-called secular from sacred and clergy from laity (90)?

What would happen if we could discover examples of men and women who, in the context of their professions and occupations, saw themselves as full-time Christian workers and ministers of the Gospel (90)?

William Danker, Profit for The Lord…Early in the history of Protestant missions we find important missionary efforts taking so much more sympathetic view of economic activities (91).

But the most important contribution of the Moravians was their emphasis that every Christian is a missionary and should witness through his daily vocation…the businessman might have retained his honored place within the expanding Christian world mission beside the preacher, teacher and physician (91).

Ken and Margie have never regretted their call to minister through their business (93).

Every Christian has been given the purpose of being a disciple-maker (93).

Our professional career is actually means of going and teaching to obey (93).

Integrating our disciple-making purpose into our professional career can add a whole new sense of purpose and meaning (93).

Very few Christians ever think about a business as a structure through which to make disciples and to thereby further the Kingdom of God.  They may consider business, ministry and missions as separate realities but they don’t relate them (94).

…millions live in countries where traditional missionaries can not get visas, but Christian business professionals can enter with freedom (94).

Business Owners, please consider using your business as a vehicle for reaching others with the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (95).

Goheen, William. The Galtronics Story. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2004.

Business as Mission, The Galtronics Story, A Tool for Integration, Highlights (4/5)

August 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

…when a structure, be it a business, church or organization, doubles in size, all of the major systems by which it is managed must grow in tandem for that entity to survive (77).

…as the business grows, its communication methods must become more formal and systematic to remain effective (77).

As a business grows and develops, complexity increases (78).

…the businesses’ effectiveness is directly proportional to the degree of cooperation management is able to achieve (78).

…communication as one of the six characteristics of an effective team (78).

…a primary function of leadership is to provide a structure for cooperation, a structure in which all of the players on the team are able to communicate effectively (78).

…six Characteristics of an Effective Team are: 1. Alignment toward a Common Purpose, 2. Appropriate Division of Labor, 3. Accepted Leadership, 4. Agreement on the Plan, 5. Solid Relationships, 6. Good Communication (78)

The selection of effective management and the delegation to it of leadership and authority, while maintaining ultimate responsibility for what goes on, is one of the most challenging and critical tasks the entrepreneur faces in business (79).

Adding different cultures, languages, geographic regions, a ministry agenda and theological differences presents Goliath-sized challenges to good communication.  Also, as first generation leadership begins to phase out, succession planning adds even more to the complexity (79).

…call for men and women to replicate in other countries what God had done in Israel through the Gal Group of companies (80).

…recruit a small team of several families, train them in operations, get a prototype operation up and going and then move the prototype to the target country (80).

…customers sent a clear message to Ken that if Galtronics wanted to keep their business, it would need to set up plants in Europe, the United States and Asia (80).

…wrestled with the opportunity to use this now global business as a platform for a church planting ministry, to replicate in other countries and among other people groups what they had seen God make a reality (verity) in Israel (80).

…they located the plant where it could be used for a church planting ministry among a target people group whom they knew had little opportunity to hear about Jesus (81).

…it is evident as a company passes through various phases of its life cycle, its approach to integration must change (81).

Taxonomy of Business and Ministry Interaction:

…described in six different categories: Precarious, Propagation, Presence, Purity, Pluralistic and Pagan (81).

All businesses in their early stages of life are Precarious (82).

When the business reaches the point where it breaks even and its owners are committed to pursuing both the making of money and the making of disciples, we refer to that as being a Propagation company (83).

As a company grows and begins to hire more and more non-Christians or Christians who are not committed to making disciples, it begins to move into the Presence stage (83).

Integrating Biblical principles into the warp and woof of the business makes sense to many who would be uncomfortable with what they would view as proselytizing…(83).

…a fairly small number of believers are committed enough to the making of disciples to whole heartedly support the use of the company they are working with to accomplish this goal (83).

…as a company grows and more people come into the employment ranks, conflict often begins to develop for the business owner or leader (83).

As the leader moves to create opportunities for advancement for all employees, the likelihood increases that people will be placed in leadership who are not committed to, and may often be resistant to, the goal of making-disciples (84).

A continual pressure or force moves the company toward secularism (84).

…Purity stage…”golden rule’ of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you becomes the essence of spiritual values within the company, a movement generally supported by both religious and nonreligious people except perhaps those committed to a strict and rigid belief in “separation of church and state (84).”

…Pluralistic stage…spiritual matters may be addressed only very cautiously if at all (84).

How do followers of Jesus, who want to obey Christ by seeking to make disciples, live for Him in these different types of companies (84)?

…Pagan company…Owners and/or leaders in this type of company are actively involved in activities that link them and their business with demonic forces (84).

…the approach believers take must fit the type of company where they are working (85).

As Ken brought in leaders and investors he found they did not always share the same view about how to integrate Christianity and Christ’s mandate to make disciples into the business (85).

If an owner of a business wants to align the purpose of that business with what he perceives as Christ’s purpose, but a leader to whom the owner is delegating authority does not share that sense of alignment, it can cause problems.  The same is true if an outside investor is brought into the business (85).

It must be understood that even two people wanting to operate a Propagation business can differ as to strategy (85).

…told by some middle managers in the company that a “glass ceiling” existed, above which no non-Christian could advance (86).

Goheen, William. The Galtronics Story. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2004.

God is at Work, Silicon Valley to Bombay (Chp.1), Highlights (2)

July 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

…I knew that if we had two years before facing any real competition from these economic giants we would be well-enough established to survive.. we prayed to that effect (30).

How can I make it a Christian company (31)?

“Only people are Christians”… “But believers can use their businesses as opportunities to make Christ known (31).”

By word and by deed, we can make Christ known through our businesses (31).

…by word… We acknowledged and thanked God for His blessings in prayers at company banquets, lunches and meetings.  After asking prospective employees what motivated them, I would then take the opportunity to share with them what motivates me (31).

…open invitation for employees…praying for their (employee) concerns (31).

…spiritual and Bible tracts…letter outlining personal faith and that affected the way people were treated and business was conducted at Inmac (31)

…by deed in the way our business is conducted (33).

sharing software…”I don’t care if everybody does it,” I stated. “We need to do what is right before God (33).”

As Inmac grew … I became concerned that I could no longer monitor its spiritual temperature. How could I make sure we were still operating according to biblical standards (33)?

I had to trust that God would alert me to sin in the camp, as He had done with regard to the software (33).

High-level service to the customers continued to be a hallmark of our company (33).

The biblical tenet “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is central to good service (34).

Over the years, I learned that business is part of a larger process, a walk with God through one’s life (34).

I wanted him to know that the company he was acquiring was the direct result of much prayer. I shared with him God’s guidance over the years and my personal faith in Jesus (35).

I only knew that God expected me to follow a higher standard of integrity (35).

…by providentially leading me away from a board position, God had enabled me to sell much of my investment during the most opportune time period (37).

…God opened my eyes to the opportunity for business to transform individuals and nations around the globe (37).

I agreed to help my friend under one condition – that he would give educated and capable young Christians in India the opportunity to work for him (37).

God gave me a vision for using my position of influence at ET to advance His Kingdom in India (38).

We would be intentional about recruiting and hiring qualified Christians (38).

The company would offer attractive wages to its employees (38).

Christians at the company could be equipped and mentored in their faith (38).

The would also give to the local church, enabling it to free itself from dependence on Western funds (38).

It was a vision to use a for-profit business to further the Church in India (38).

Bombay is one of the few cosmopolitan cities in India, and it has a relatively open religious attitude (38).

There is an enormous opportunity to provide spiritual training and discipling for the hundreds of Christians at ET (39).

We have had the opportunity to introduce a Christian-based leadership development program called PowerWalk within the company (39).

While the management is Hindu, the company embraced the idea and expressed a desire to have the entire management group go through this Christian-based training course (39).

At the end of the week, it was agreed that this training should be offered to everyone in the company – including spouses (39).

…committed to planting house churches in the area (40).

When ET experienced an economic downturn that threatened the company, Christian employees got together to pray for their business.  The company recovered, and many recognized the source of the turnaround (40).

God gave me a vision for using business to advance His Church and provide economic blessing in India…(40)

What different approaches were Kingdom-focused believers using to effect economic and spiritual transformation…(40)?

Eldred, K. A. (2005). God is at work: Transforming people and nations through business. Ventura: Regal Books

 

God is at Work, Silicon Valley to Bombay (Chp.1), Highlights (1)

July 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

ET is a call center in Bombay, India with approximately one thousand employees – smart, college-educated professionals (20).

At ET, 60 percent of the employees call themselves Christians (20).

…the Spirit of God giving a vision for using business to further the gospel of Jesus (20).

…comprehensive ministry that creates jobs and profitable businesses, and strengthens the local church…(20)

Kingdom business is achieving economic and spiritual tansformation around the globe and is welcomed even by developing nations that are traditionally closed to the gospel (20).

By the way of Sunday sermons, I (Ken Eldred) had come to the (wrong) conclusion that any serious Christian could only serve God as a pastor; a true follower of Jesus would lay down his career and go into preaching (22).

I wanted to be a Christian, but I also wanted to be a businessman.   My education, training, abilities, and passion were in business (22).

…even mature Christians often succumb to this line of thinking, concluding that they must change careers in order to serve God.  They fail to see the opportunity for spiritual value of their work in the marketplace (22).

…business was my ministry…(22)

…my faith needed to impact my work. I needed to do my business by the Book. I needed to evaluate my actions in light of the bilbical standards of integrity, morality and love (23).

I used the Bible to carefully consider the morality of my actions. I wanted to please the Lord, and I could see the value of operating aboveboard. This was the first step of making my work my ministry (23).

Eventually, the Lord showed me that He wanted to be more than a moral standard or an example of loving concern for others in my business practice.  He began to reveal that He wanted to partner with me in all that I was doing (23).

The realization that God desired to partner with me – that He cared about business outcomes and wanted me to ask Him for specific results – deepened the sense of business as my ministry (24).

…the Bible is the foundation of all meaningful business concepts. Honesty, service, excellence, respect, commitment, value, trust, loyalty and quality are not only successful business practices, but are also biblical principles. They were biblical principles first (24).

…nations of economic greatness display a very high level of trust in their moral, cultural and economic systems.  Of course, trust is fundamental to our relationship with God, who is trustworthy.  The rule of law, so fundamental to strong economies and stable societies, is also basic to the Bible. We are under a higher authority, and God’s laws are immutable….Ethics and morality are defined by a strong set of fundamental beliefs to which all adhere.  And the Lord is the glue that holds it all together (25).

Because biblical principles lead to successful business, the marketplace affords us the opportunity to present God’s truth in a uniquely relevant way… we can present the gospel by word and by deed (25).

I asked God to open my eyes, to remove the veil…I felt God’s urge to start a business (26).

God is focused on relationships… in God’s economy, success means that first I must have a relationship with God, and then second I must have a quality relationship with my wife and my children.  Finally, if my company is prosperous, that’s a bonus (27).

…as a result of bootstrapping the start-up venture, we maintained a greater equity interest in the company (28).

Like Gideon…I set out a fleece before God (28).

…God gave me confidence that even if His answer was no, it would mean He had something better in store for us (29).

…God had demonstrated clearly that He cared about the venture, that He had His hand in it, and that He wanted me there (29).

“Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him” (1 Cor. 7:20)

The spiritual value of business is in serving one’s fellow man (29).

Eldred, K. A. (2005). God is at work: Transforming people and nations through business. Ventura: Regal Books

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