5 Reasons for Missional Entrepreneurship

Let Me Ask You a Personal Question. How many hours did you invest in 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.

Is There a Better Way?

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 combining 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 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 Middle Age-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 all 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, such as 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 to help fund 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:

Many lines of Christian effort have been carried forward. . . . These included visiting the sick and destitute, finding homes for orphans, and work for the unemployed; nursing the sick, and teaching the truth from house to house; the distribution of literature, and . . . classes on healthful living and the care of the sick. A school for the children has been conducted in the basement of the Laguna Street meeting-house. For a time a working men’s home and medical mission was maintained. On Market Street, near the city hall, there were treatment rooms, operated as a branch of the St. Helena Sanitarium. In the same locality was a health food store. Nearer the center of the city, not far from the Call building, was . . . a vegetarian cafe, which was open six days in the week, and entirely closed on the Sabbath.²

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 survey from the University of Phoenix showed that 63 percent of young people below the age of 30 want to start their own businesses.³ 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.⁴ One year later, she said we can’t be satisfied with just one single restaurant in Brooklyn! Many more should follow.⁵ Long before a franchise was a thing, even 40 years before the largest fast-food chain first opened its 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 approximately 36,889 restaurants, while we’re still struggling with a few hundred? This ought not to be. God called us to be the head, not the tail. He has given you 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 talking. We are doing something about this. I would like to share two great resources with you. If you want to learn more about how wholistic stewardship and missional entrepreneurship go hand in hand, listen to Pastor Marcos Bomfim’s recent podcast episode called “Learning to Live Dangerously.” Also, you might want to discover powerful videos and worksheets that will help you on your journey to becoming a missional entrepreneur. Hyve, Adventism’s community of missional entrepreneurs, and aspiring ones invites you to join the movement at hyveinternational.org.

¹ Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 19 (Silver Spring, MD: Ellen G. White Estate, 1990), 17.

² Ellen G. White, “Note of Travel—No. 3: The Judgement of God on Our Cities,” The Review and Herald, July 5, 1906, 7–9.

³ Minda Zetlin, “Survey: 63% of 20-Somethings Want to Start a Business,” Inc., December 17, 2013, https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/63-percent-of-20-....

⁴ Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7 (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1902), 110.

⁵ Ibid., 55.

Jesse Zwiker

Jesse Zwiker, born in Switzerland, started his career as a missionary in Honduras at the age of 19 co-founding VIDA International. There, he recognized the power of entrepreneurship in the context of ministry and then went on to found several ventures in the for-profit and non-profit sector, including Crosslingo. He is the president of Hyve, a global Adventist community of missional entrepreneurs, where he shares his passion for combining faith and entrepreneurship. He lives in Chattanooga, USA together with his beautiful wife and two children.