What I want to talk to you about today is invention. What I mean by that is that facet of human nature that includes the capacity to create order and beauty where none previously existed.
We know from the first pages of Genesis that humanity was invested with the capacity to reflect God’s glory. We believe that even those who do not follow Christ retain some aspect of Imago Dei. That is, they are invested with worth and dignity that reflects who God is.
In the life of a believer, God’s creation continues with his Word at the center, bringing new life upon our faith in the Gospel. In our experiential sanctification, his Word continues to create. The Spirit illuminates our understanding of the Word and brings about a seemingly infinite capacity to express God’s nature.
In our various academic pursuits at The Master’s University, we find this at work in what my colleague Jo Suzuki calls “instruments” for expressing God’s glory. In music that might be composition, in science and math, it could be a novel method or theory. In our film department, it could be a narrative that highlights biblical categories and worldview.
In business, we call it entrepreneurship.
Over the past ten years, I have had the privilege of teaching a variety of business-related subjects to maturing believers from the perspective of marketplace ambassadorship. One of our challenges in doing this is to help students see that they have a unique capacity to initiate and grow commercial ventures.
They have the potential not only to generate wealth for the mission of Christ but to participate in the central creative activity that shapes all the major institutions of our capitalist society.
Small business, defined as businesses having fewer than 500 employees in the US and 250 employees in the EU are responsible for half of all global productivity, they comprise 95% of all businesses, and they create between 60 and 90 percent of all new jobs.
We see in entrepreneurship a canvas upon which the Christian businessperson can etch biblical standards that reflect the heart of our redeeming self-revealing God. In the US small business is a forum where the exercise of independent thought and liberty has been preserved. Including the ability of Christians to establish policies that reflect divine priorities.
The exercise of economic expression is every bit as important to the witness of Christ as free speech.
In the advent of globalization, since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the unchallenged engine for international exchange has been capitalism. As such, entrepreneurship is a medium of international reach vital to the fulfillment of the great commission and our mandate to make disciples for Jesus Christ.
As Christian innovators we glorify a creative God, functioning as salt and light in a world that needs to see him on display and desperately needs to know the truth of his Gospel. To this end, we equip our students for real leadership. Our students will do more than participate in the conversation that is shaping history. With the tools we provide, they will set the agenda.
John Beck currently teaches at TMU’s School of Business and Communication. Prior to joining the faculty, John Beck has been an executive in the software industry for just over 20 years serving as CEO and General Manager of a local entertainment software company for ten of those years. He has also been an entrepreneur and investor in software related companies. Mr. Beck serves as an elder at Grace Baptist Church. John holds a B.S. in Communication from Ohio University (Summa Cum Laude) and an M.A. in Communication from University of Southern California.