In America it's amazing how closely we live near people in poverty without even recognizing it. A recent article, A City Divided by Income, was published by WABE.org that highlighted the income divide in three distinct parts of Atlanta, which are divided by income status. The article focused not on three different cities, but three different divisions within the same city - upper, middle, and lower class - which is probably not much different than most metro areas in the US.
From the authors:
We decided to do this project because we wanted to show people that poverty is not an issue that is far away from them; it is in their backyard. All of these neighborhoods were within 30 minutes of each other, but they were drastically different. We want to break the bubble that many wealthy people live in and show them that poverty is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Read the full article at http://news.wabe.org/post/city-divided-income
Some Christians may be wondering why we should care so much about people beyond their spiritual and eternal well-being. The truth is the Bible has a lot to say about how we treat people economically.
So how did God respond to economic injustice in the Bible? One example is Isaiah 58:3, “Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.” He was telling the Israelites that He was rejecting their religious activities because they were creating oppressive conditions for their employees. He was displeased because they were not taking care of the natural needs of people and were instead being a burden to them.
In Matthew 21 we see Jesus use forceful action to throw out the corrupt merchants from the temple who were taking advantage of vulnerable people. He wasn't angry that they were doing business. He was angry that they were using their businesses to manipulate, cheat, and steal.
Let’s look at a few other scriptures that touch on this issue of economic injustice:
So if we go back to Isaiah 58, towards the end of the chapter God gives us a prescription for what pleases Him: loving people, taking care of their needs, feeding the hungry, lifting burdens, and protecting the innocent. When we do these things in our urban communities, with a critical focus on our young people, here is what the outcomes will be:
“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:11-12
I believe this is a prophetic word for what can happen in our communities even today when we take on this mantle! Christians should be leading the way to defend the vulnerable and confront the powerful who prey on the weak. We have a God-given responsibility and authority to help whose who are taken advantage of economically by others. So let's get to work!
We know the cost of the fallout is not yet calculated from the aftermath of the events in Ferguson over the past few days. However, what we do know is that the first victims after the verdict was announced were small businesses in the "hot zone" that were burned to the ground.
Operation Hope CEO and empowerment advocate John Hope Bryant wrote an article on LinkedIn entitled: "The Second Victim of Ferguson. The Death of Business and Jobs" that highlighted the potential long-term devastating impact of the loss of small businesses. According to Bryant, the specific small businesses that burned down and/or looted included: QuickTrip, Ferguson Market, AutoZone, wireless telephone store, beauty supply store, a public storage, and a BBQ restaurant. Bryant says:
"None of these businesses had anything to do with the injustices of Ferguson and its criminal justice system, but many may never open again, or even have a desire to come back. And given that 92% of all jobs in America are private sector, this means that a community that had few jobs before the Michael Brown crisis, now will have significantly less still.
This is one reason I'm a huge advocate for entrepreneurship training in urban areas as a vehicle to create opportunities and help lift people out of poverty. Prayerfully Ferguson's entrepreneur community will be able to rebuild with an increased emphasis on more people becoming small business owners. Economic empowerment must become one of the the key aspects of community rebuilding.
Click here to read the full article on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141125191809-23074630-the-second-victim-of-ferguson-the-death-of-business-and-jobs
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Whether we realize it or not, we are in the age of the "Entrepreneurial Economy". This doesn't mean everyone will be an entrepreneur. What it means is that every worker needs to approach the workforce with a new mindset. Along with a new mindset, workers will also need new transferable skills that will be sustainable in any work environment or economy. Every person is a personal enterprise who brings significant value to the marketplace. While that may be somewhat frightening for some, this new normal actually creates many opportunities for those who are willing and able to adapt and adjust.
That's why we're excited to host Dream Rally for Jobs in Suffolk, VA this Friday, October 17th at Gates of Heaven C.O.G.I.C. We will be restoring hope, igniting visions, and inspiring dreams of the unemployed, underemployed, and misemployed. If you have been unsuccessful in finding meaning work with a living wage or you know someone in that position please join us for this special event beginning at 7:30 pm.
Learn more at www.incmydream.com/dream-rally
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As we wade through another holiday shopping season of hyper-marketing, once-in-a-lifetime-until-next-year black Friday discounts, and customer brawls, it's easy to lay the blame for this atmosphere on our "greed-driven capitalism." However, the reasons for the current environment is more complex than that generic label. In his recent article, Capitalism and the Kingdom, Bob Lupton of FCS Urban Ministries discusses the delicate balance through which we should view capitalism, especially as it relates to how Christians are to deal with the poor. Here's an excerpt...
"I am convinced that the only thing that will enable the poor to emerge from poverty is a decent job. I am further convinced that the best chance of creating decent jobs lies with our free market capitalists. Does this mean that capitalism is the Divine design for bringing about Shalom? I suspect not. Nor is any economic system devised by flawed humanity. But in spite of its bent toward self-interest, even with its excesses and inequities, capitalism has an historic opportunity to create shared prosperity that can benefit every person on the globe. What capitalism needs in order to fulfill its promise is sanctified self-interest."
It's extremely important for Christian entrepreneurs to realize that your business is a ministry. Otherwise you will undervalue the opportunities God gives you everyday to serve and impact people through your business.
One of the foremost experts in the Body of Christ who articulates better than most is David Doty, who has more than thirty years' experience as a three-time small business entrepreneur, board membership, and business coach for several not-for-profits and small businesses. He is the author of Eden’s Bridge: The Marketplace in Creation and Mission – which is the first articulation of a biblically-based theology of the marketplace as an institution of God. In a recent blog David discusses the significance of business as ministry. Here's a excerpt:
"So, how exactly is it that business is ministry? The answer lies in the nature of creation itself, which emanates from the nature of the godhead. The central focus of God as God and of creation as a product of God’s nature, character, and will, is relationship. Ministry is simply the mediation of the relationship between God and humankind, and business, as a vital institution in human society, is fundamentally about the facilitation of relationships. It is not the only institution that mediates the relationship of the divine and the temporal but it is perhaps as significant as any simply by the fact that it is the institution by which we survive and even thrive.
Read the entire article Business is Ministry here: http://edensbridge.org/2013/10/18/business-is-ministry/
What are you thoughts on the concept of business is ministry? Leave your comments below...
In this interview with Pastor Calvin Jenkins I share a Kingdom perspective of today's economy and how we should respond as Christians.Enjoy!
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by Lavonya Jones
Once Jesus had accomplished His mission in the Earth, He instructed us to “’Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20). According to Ed Silvoso, in his book Transformation, “to disciple a nation means to impact its life so that it will conform to a set of specific values and develop a corresponding behavior.” This means to cause the culture of the nations to conform to the values of God’s Kingdom of love, joy, and peace. Therefore, as a Church, we are not just called to transform the lives of individuals, but also the conditions and environments in which they live. We are called to restore back unto the nations their honor and glory. Ed Silvoso further states that, “The premier social indicator that transformation has taken place is the elimination of systemic poverty.” Our efforts as the Church must provide value to the vitality of the entire community.
The heart of the nation is the city, and the heart of the city is the marketplace. Therefore, transformation must begin here. Without a clear presence of the Kingdom of God in the marketplace through the placement of marketplace ministers, what happens inside our four walls is nothing more than a spiritual parade or pep rally. The Church must proactively seek a point of inception into the marketplace through the seven mountains of culture (family, government, media, economy/business, arts/entertainment, education, and religion), enforcing the Kingdom of God over the four values of control of the kingdom of darkness (control, immorality, pride, and exploitation of nature) with the righteousness, peace, joy, and power of the Kingdom of God (Rom 14:17). As we see in the world today, anyone with resources can address social issues, but only Spirit-filled believers have the access to the Tree of Life (wisdom-Prov. 3:18; the fruit of righteousness-Prov. 11:30; desire fulfilled-Prov. 13:12; a soothing tongue-Prov. 15:4) to solve the problems of the world, and to bring healing to the nations through the demonstration of God’s power with signs, wonders, and miracles. This is the most powerful key to opening up the nations to be transformed by the Kingdom of God.
Statistically, over 90 percent of the Church does not feel that they are properly equipped by nuclear church leaders to impact their areas of influence in the marketplace. Marketplace ministers must be taught that they are called to do business, with the expectation to succeed, so that they may be granted influence, or authority, over their cities to be able to release the culture of Heaven in their cities. Every member in the Body of Christ has been given a specific assignment to display God’s glory and power, and to usher in the Kingdom of God among the nations. With this assignment, God has designated particular groups of people, particular regions, and particular areas for each of us to pour out our gifts and talents, for His glory, in order that we might fulfill our assignment on this earth. Therefore, marketplace ministers are key to city transformation and just as important and vital to the Kingdom of God as nuclear church ministers. As marketplace ministers we are to use our anointing to display God’s glory and power in our area of influence “so that sinners will turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18), transforming people and their environments. When we get the revelation that God has called us, He has anointed us, He has graced us, and given us authority, power, and jurisdiction in the arena of the marketplace we are well on our way to allowing God’s kingdom to replace Satanic systems in the heart of our communities and cities.
About the Author
Lavonya Jones is a fierce new generation Business Strategist and Leadership Coach with over fourteen years of business, ministry and leadership experience. Armed with a passion to challenge the status quo within the upcoming generation, Jones is on a mission to bridge the destiny gap and equip leaders around the world with the spiritual and practical tools they need to fulfill God’s dream for their lives.
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In recent years there has been a shift in the conversation of how we can more effectively eliminate poverty in third world countries. And most of the discussion centers around increasing enterprise and entrepreneurship among the poor vs. increasing aid given to them. One of the leading voices in this change of thought is Michael Matheson Miller, a Research Fellow at the Acton Institute and the Director of Poverty Cure. He wrote this in a recent article:
We see poverty in the developing world and we ask—what can I do? So we send food, water, clothes. We sponsor children, build wells, start schools and go on mission trips; we wear wristbands, we sign petitions, we advocate. But what if the question that animates our activity is the wrong one?
God desires that all of His children would prosper, so the conversation around this shift to creating prosperity shouldn't just be for third world countries. I believe these is a very timely and relevant discussion even for Christians in America. We need to more deeply consider how we are strategically attacking the issues of poverty in our own national backyard, especially as it relates to utilizing enterprise and entrepreneurship to empower people to becomes agents of their own transformation.
I'm excited about this shift and I hope to part of not just the conversations but the practical application / implementation of these ideas and concepts.
Read Miller's full article posted on QIdeas: http://www.qideas.org/blog/the-shift-from-alleviating-poverty-to-creating-prosperity.aspx
[This video was originally posted at QIdeas.org]
In this current business environment, more brands seem to be coming to the realization that focusing on being a good corporate citizen is more beneficial than trying to manage the risk of questionable or unscrupulous behavior. Dale Partridge, CEO and Co-Founder of Sevenly.org, questions whether a brand, in fact, can contribute to the common good.
Dale brings up some interesting points, but what I most agree with him on the fact that Christian business owners and leaders are best positioned to lead the marketplace forward through ethical, moral, and people-focused business practices.
RELATED: Grow Businesses. Create Jobs. Defeat Poverty.
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