Acton Institute Powerblog

To whom is given: A new documentary on the Christian call to business

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There is often a temptation among Christians to segment and categorize “Christian calling” into our own preferred buckets, deeming certain jobs, careers, or vocations as more worthwhile or “sacred” than others.

Yet our public ministry doesn’t begin or end within the walls of a church building or the confines of a conversation about conversion. Our public worship and witness is not limited to work and service within a specific subset of “Christian-oriented” businesses or institutions.

In a new documentary from Values & Capitalism, we get a more visible, tangible picture of how rich and varied Christian vocation can be. Anchored by Christian leaders and thinkers such as Christopher Brooks, Gregory Thornbury Katherine Leary Alsdorf, and Dave Blanchard, the documentary follows the paths of 3 different business leaders.

From an adventure-company entrepreneur to a pastry chef to the owners of an electrical contracting firm, we see the complex and remarkable ways that God unexpectedly calls people to various forms of creative service, weaving together spiritual calling and neighbor-love with economic and cultural transformation.

For Greg McEvilly, founder of Kammok, the “sacred-secular divide” was a real obstacle. “I’ve always had this love for business…and also this love for the Lord and for ministry,” he says. “Growing up, I saw those as two diverging paths.” McEvilly gave up on his dreams of starting a business, choosing seminary instead. Yet upon beginning his studies, he soon realized that his dreams of owning a business were closely connected to his heart for ministry.

“It reshaped my theology,” McEvilly explains. “God really started rekindling a passion for entrepreneurship and business and then giving me a broader vision for how my business could be a way for me to live out my faith in a really incredible way and have a transformative impact on a broader scale.”

For Winnette McIntosh Ambrose, an MIT-educated engineer who left the bio-medical field to became a pastry chef, the vocational shift involved a significant re-imagining of what it means to glorify God through our work. Before making the entrepreneurial leap, she was routinely faced with a question: “How can you leave your fruitful and honorable work in vision-saving technology to, well, bake treats?”

Her response took a cue from the Economy of Wonder and the gratitude that it inspires. “As human beings, we’re created with one main purpose, and that is to glorify God, and to do that in whatever sphere we might be in,” she explains, pointing to Colossians 3:23. “…It was this idea that whatever I was doing, that I should be doing it heartily and for the Lord.”

The church as institution plays a significant role in building up the body, but the subsequent empowerment isn’t meant to end there. If we let it fade, leaving the most basic tools on the table, we’ll miss out on numerous opportunities to build culture, love people, and serve those around us for the glory of God.

“Church is the conscience of culture. We make sure that culture understands its higher moral calling,” Brooks explains. “But business is the creator of culture. They look at market conditions and they assess needs and desires and wants, and in an anticipatory way, they create products, goods, and services that actually bring to life what’s in our hearts and our imaginations. And if they work together in complementary ways like that, then our societies flourish.”

Photo: Values & Capitalism

Joseph Sunde is an associate editor and writer for the Acton Institute. His work has appeared in venues such as The Federalist, First Things, Intellectual Takeout, The City, The Christian Post, The Stream, Patheos, LifeSiteNews, Charisma News, The Green Room, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work. Joseph resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and four children.

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