How many hours did you invest into sharing the gospel last month? Did you join your pastor on Sabbath afternoon to pass out tracts? During your last flight, were you able to share your faith with the person sitting next to you?
Someone once told me: “The main disadvantage that God has is that the devil has full-time workers while God has free time volunteers.” Think about it. Ninety-nine percent of us are not working full time for God. We have “secular” jobs. And we can’t be blamed. We have honorable responsibilities like paying bills and sending our kids to school. So we end up cramming all outreach activities into a very tight space which we call “free time” — after work, family, friends and hobbies. But if we think we will finish the work in our free time, we must think again.
There is a more effective way to advance God’s work, a way that combines our missional passion with our profession. It’s not tithe-based, it’s income-based. It allows us to work 40 hours per week, reaching people as part of our job while generating enough money to pay the bills. We call that missional entrepreneurship. Missional entrepreneurship means to combine your talents with your calling to reach people and make it financially sustainable (just like Paul, the tent maker). Let me give you five powerful reasons why you should consider missional entrepreneurship.
First, it involves every talent. Every work we do is a sacred work. We all have beautiful talents that God wants us to use. Pastors aren’t the only ones with a spiritual calling, even though Catholic theology made us believe that for over a thousand years. Martin Luther emphasized that the Bible promotes the priesthood of all believers, not just the clergy. Designers, accountants, construction workers, teachers, chefs, engineers — we are priests and have the privilege of serving God and others with our talents!
Secondly, it’s who we are. If you look back in Adventist history, you realize that our movement has always had a very strong missional and entrepreneurial spirit. William Miller had a farming business. Joshua Himes had an advertising company and became the marketing genius behind the early Advent movement. Uriah Smith invented a prosthetic leg. John Kellogg revolutionized the American breakfast and invented much of the gym equipment still used today. Ferdinand Stahl started a clinic and 46 missionary schools in Peru. Dr. Harry Miller established 20 hospitals throughout China. The list goes on. Missional entrepreneurship has always been part of our history.
Thirdly, it’s prophetic. Ellen White was very passionate about missional entrepreneurship and combining faith and business. She wrote: “You have felt that business is business, religion is religion, but I tell you that these cannot be divorced…. You are not to put asunder that which God has joined—business and religion.”¹ Entire books were compiled on certain business models, like The Health Food Ministry which calls us to have vegetarian restaurants in every city of the world. Counsels on Health and Medical Ministry focuses on health-related businesses like hospitals, sanitariums, treatment rooms and clinics. Then there is Colporteur Ministry, which talks about training students in sales and funding their tuition while doing evangelism with the books they sell. Ellen White also wrote about how we should reach the cities by building a “beehive” network of missional ventures that would involve all church members. This self-sustainable, “all inclusive” beehive model of reaching the cities plays a prophetic role in the final outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the three angels’ messages.
Fourthly, missional entrepreneurship fulfills a massive demand. A recent study from the University of Phoenix showed that 63 percent of young people below the age of 30 want to start their own businesses. Many others would take a pay cut if they could only find a job that merges their passion with their profession. Missional entrepreneurship has a great future if we embrace it and provide a framework that allows our young adults to combine their missional passion with their profession.
Fifthly, it is scalable. Thousands of Adventist ministries and businesses out there are existing, but they are barely surviving. A lack of proper business development knowledge keeps them away from expanding. But God’s message to us has been very clear. When Ellen White wrote about the successful beehive model in San Francisco in 1900, she made it clear that they needed to expand and open new restaurants, food stores and treatment rooms.² One year later, she said we can’t be satisfied with just one single restaurant in Brooklyn! Many more should follow.³ Long before franchise was a thing, even 40 years before the largest fast food chain opened its first doors, this visionary woman urged us to use this business structure to reach the world! How did we end up neglecting this important method? How did that fast food company manage to open 36,889 restaurants, while we’re still struggling with a few hundred? This ought not be. God called us to be the head, and not the tail. He has given us every tool and talent we need to finish His work, so let us use missional entrepreneurship to scale and complete it!
This isn’t just talk. We are doing something about this. I would like to invite you to Adventism’s community of missional entrepreneurs and aspiring ones. Join the movement at hyveinternational.org.
1. Arthur White mentions this in chapter 26 “A Trip Into the South” of Ellen White’s biography entitled The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5) on page 347.
2. You can read her full article here: Eleanor Roosevelt, “My Day, October 7, 1938,” The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Digital Edition (2017).
3. Weldon Melick wrote a Reader’s Digest article in May 1938 entitled “Self-supporting College” (pages 105-109). As a result, thousands of inquiries came to college.
4. P. P. Claxton was writing about Madison multiple times, over a span of many years.
5. First published in Pamphlet 119: “An Appeal for the Madison School”, page 2.
6. Pamphlet 119: “An Appeal for the Madison School”, page 2.
7. Ellen White described very clearly the two points of mission and entrepreneurship: “The school at Madison not only educates in a knowledge of the Scriptures, but it gives a practical training that fits the student to go forth as a self-supporting missionary to the field to which he is called.” Pamphlet 119: “An Appeal for the Madison School”, page 1.
8. In her famous book called “The Ministry of Healing,” Ellen White shares on page 395 that “Every son and daughter of God is called to be a missionary; we are called to the service of God and our fellow men; and to fit us for this service should be the object of our education.”
9. Ellen White: “The Ministry of Healing”, page 148.
11. Acts 18:1-21 describes Paul in Corinth. Although some scholars debate whether or not Paul was making lots of money with his tent making business, the text clearly shows that Paul spent quite some time on it, made enough money to sustain himself while being there and had the funds to continue traveling to Ephesus, together with Priscilla and Aquila.
12. This statement is part of Ellen White’s Review & Herald article “The Work of Our Training Schools” from October 15, 1903.
13. The answer to why Madison had to shut down is not that simple. There are multiple facets. A primary one was certainly that the leadership taking over after Sutherland didn’t fully understand the entrepreneurial part of the model.