Is a company “Christian” because it sells Christian products, like Bibles and greeting cards with Scripture verses on them? Is a company Christian because its owners says it is? What makes a company “Christian” and do we need them?
This is the question posed at by Hugh Whelchel at the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics. He points out that many well-known American businesses proclaim that they are Christian: Hobby Lobby, Chik-Fil-A and Forever 21, for instance, even though none of them specialize in specifically Christian items or consumers. Now, Hobby Lobby is closed on Sundays, specifically so its employees are free to worship and rest that day, clearly stemming from the owners Christian beliefs. Is that what it takes to be a “Christian” company?
Is there, as Mark Oppenheimer and Paul Prather…, something less visible to the outside world but which shapes the corporate culture of businesses owned and operated by Christians?
What we need to be focusing on is not whether we have Christian businesses, but whether we have Christian businessmen who integrate their convictions and principles with their work.
After all, how do we define “Christian” for businesses? Does it mean that the management or ownership is Christian? Does it mean that all the employees sign a statement of faith? Does it mean that you only sell Christian products? Does it mean that your company plays Christian music or puts Bible verses on its packaging?
Whelchel points out that businesses – regardless of who owns or runs them – exist to be businesses: serve people, sell a product, make a profit. And every business, regardless of who owns it, needs to do this well in order to continue as a business. However, if the person who owns and/or runs the company is Christian, then a set of ethical and moral underpinnings come into play. Whelchel writes, “If we apply our Christian beliefs to the way we do business, we will focus instead on sustainability, serving others, and, ultimately, long-term profitability.”
A Christian business owner, even if not running a specifically “Christian” business can strive to treat every employee with dignity, to serve the community by creating jobs and value, and taking care of customers.
Rather than asking “Should my company be Christian?” it is more helpful to first ask, “How can I run my business in the most biblical manner? How can I make others ask, ‘What’s different about this business?’”
After all, anyone can label themselves. It’s the actions that demonstrate true courage, commitment, and conviction.