There’s been a huge shift in how business and missions intertwine. No longer can missionaries simply plan to find employment in the field. In most places, they must now create an enterprise that will serve the population in order to gain access to the people they desire to reach.
Effective ministry begins with having a crystal clear understanding of reality. Discovery tests our assumptions and reveals the true condition of our communities. Simply put, discovery is reasonable research. A combination of primary, secondary, qualitative, and quantitative research methods are used to discover the truth, which becomes foundational for ministry design and action.
Design envisions what a church ought to do and what Kingdom change should happen. Good design always leads to action. Through a unique blend of inspiration and ideation, key partners and influencers are brought to the table to design through challenges and generate new ministry paradigms and strategies for implementation.
Do is the work of the Church. The Church exists in this world to make disciples and elevate the Gospel, namely through proclamation and demonstration—word and deed.
Documenting is writing down what is important. What is documented, who it is communicated to, and how it is communicated are all indicators of what the Church values and what it does not.
Dreaming is looking to the future. It is imagining the possibilities that will shape the future, and a willingness to pursue effective ministry.
Global churches are more interested in economic development than charity. It’s our job to think critically about how—in practical terms—we can help serve that process.
The biggest error most churches and ministries make in this process is failure to spend enough time in discovery. As westerners, we are wired and excited to go and do. However, it’s critical to understand the market and listen— without imposing our own assertions on the conversation. Americans are hammers; every nail we see we want to hit. We are always assuming and prescribing. Someone gifted at running a business in North America isn’t guaranteed to be successful in a Majority World country. We’d be better off partnering successful businesspersons with someone who has a deep cultural IQ to translate their westernized business acumen into a culturally contextualized version of success in another geographical location.
One of the most important things to remember is to see yourself as temporary and catalytic. Set yourself up to leave. As you strategize marketplace ministry, plan to set up a model that ends in self-sustenance. Give yourself an expiration date. The capital, training, skills, education, time, energy, and wisdom you bring to the venture are investments. Understand that you’re there to start up, and be careful that what you bring to the table doesn’t create any form of dependency.