by Mark L. Russell
The book is an excellent read for getting basic theological insight into the world of marketplace ministry.
New Hope Publishers, P.O. Box 12065, Birmingham, AL 35202, 2010, 288 pages, $24.99.
—Reviewed by Scott A. Adams, DBA, associate professor of finance, Taylor University, Upland, Indiana.
The Apostle Paul is a complex person who is often difficult to understand. Many Christians find him the model missionary and evangelical. He was a tentmaker by trade and continued his occupation during most of his missionary journeys. At times, Paul worked numerous hours so as not to be a burden on those to whom he was teaching (1 Thess. 2:9). The gospel spread through much of the world because of the direct work of Paul and the many seeds he planted.
Today, Paul’s life needs to be reexamined as marketplace ministries begin to take a significant place in missions. Mark Russell’s book adds tremendous value by examining the life of Paul as a tentmaker and missionary. Paul was equally a businessman and spreader of the gospel. The chapters on the life of Paul provided new insights into what it means to be a missionary and business person. Simply put, being a tentmaker was not a distraction to Paul’s missionary work; instead, it enhanced his effectiveness. The author uses the life of Paul to help readers understand Business as Missions (BAM). A clear case is made that both missions and business are meant to co-exist and this mixture is effective in the long run. A missional entrepreneur is someone who starts a business to fulfill his or her part of God’s plan for the world. A holistic view is offered for the enhancement of the big picture of a Christian’s role in this world.
The author presents research on the best and worst practices in BAM. One often discussed issue is the difference between making disciples and converts. The book is demonstrative of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) and why the word “disciples”, and not “converts”, is used. A wonderful story of two fictitious BAM companies brings the best and worst practices to life. The setting in Thailand is well chosen since the initial conversion process to Christianity takes many years.
The book is an excellent read for getting basic theological insight into the world of marketplace ministry. Anyone wanting a basic understanding of BAM would gain from reading the book. I would recommend the section on Paul to even those well-read in BAM. At times, the author discusses things outside the basic thesis of the book. For example, the discussion on executive compensation seems more populist than central to the thesis. Also, there are segments on servant leadership, etc., that can be found in many other management books. What makes this book a must read are insights into Paul and the manner in which the great apostle combines business and missions.