In a seminar today I was told about a recent missiology dissertation, focusing on business as mission. That is, not business as a platform for mission, but business itself as mission. The idea is that in the context of a country closed to the gospel, the business missionary goes in not under the pretense of business but really doing it.
The benefit is the relational network: getting a business started up could entail interaction with government official at national provincial and local levels; suppliers; neighbors, employees and customers. Along all these lines are possibilities for gospel witness and discipleship.
I was walking tonight with a friend who is starting seminary and has his heart set on international mission. He asked me, “What does a settled Christian life look like?” We started by saying it is a life of loving God and loving your neighbor, sharing the gospel and making disciples along whatever relational lines you find yourself in.
I recalled reading years ago about a man who started a catering business in Thailand which served Western clients, but did ministry by rescuing, employing and training girls who had been sex slaves. The man ran the business, and his wife went into the brothels and reached out to the women. Apparently, the business was so successful that the owner was contemplating franchising it.
So how do you train for that kind of ministry life?
One of the common criticisms of seminary training is that it isn’t relevant outside of ministry contexts. Who has time to get an MBA and a seminary degree?
I came up with the idea of a blended degree, part M.Div, part MBA. I called it the M.Div/BA. The idea is to get theological foundations and discipleship training as well as practical preparation for starting a thriving business in a mission context.
Imagine a church filled with guys running prospering businesses, in which context they are sharing the gospel and making disciples. (And tithing!)
Well, as it turns out, my idea was late to the party. Several schools already have dual M.Div/MBA programs. Here are the ones I found: (If I have omitted any, please let me know and I will add them to the list.)
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary / University of Louisville
Emory University/Candler School of Theology
Eastern University / Palmer Seminary
Yale Divinity School
Seattle Pacific University
North Park University
Another option for interested students, of course, is to simply pursue separate degrees: an M.Div or MA in theology (or ministry or apologetics, etc.) at a seminary of your choice, and an MBA at a school of your choice. The upside of dual degree programs is that you can save a year in study, and it will probably cost less. Another factor, however, that if you pursue these degrees separately, you can tailor your theological and business education more particularly. For instance, if you want theological education in a tradition not represented on this list, the best approach might be to simply get a degree at that seminary and find a separate MBA program.
About the AuthorMark Warnock is the founder and General Editor of Seminary Survival Guide.com. He serves as Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church of Columbia, Illinois, and is a Ph.D student in Christian Philosophy at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is working with Ed Eubanks on a book on how to survive seminary.
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