Cultural Fit ≠ Christian: Part Two
Separating the Why from the What & How
There is a distinct difference between what a company does and why it does it. A mission statement defines what a company does, while a purpose statement clarifies why they are doing it. This is critical for leaders to understand, because it is very difficult to rally everyone behind purpose. Motives and convictions are formed by journey, beliefs, etc. It would certainly stunt the growth of an organization if it continually waited for everyone to have unified purpose. We believe that it is much more effective to establish a mission, a single charge everyone can unite around and allow team member motives to develop and mature along the way.
Wise parents understand this as well. It would be silly to expect a toddler to live by the same convictions and philosophies that the parents have taken a lifetime to form. Instead, parents must gracefully walk with their children, allowing time for these convictions to take root and grow. This takes a steady stream of mercy and patience from parents who desire to raise children of character.
Our purpose is “To reveal God and His Kingdom through our work in the marketplace.” While God has refined how we’ve worded that over the years, that is why our company has existed since its inception. While there are some roles that must be aligned with our purpose (leaders, connections team, etc.), we don’t require everyone who comes here to adopt it. Our desire is to accept people just as they are, as long as they are willing to whole-heartedly join in our mission and commit to our core values.
We want to select the best person for the job, regardless of their faith. If they’re a match for the role and pass our rigorous selection process, they’re welcomed with open arms. The goal isn’t to just huddle with people that look and think like we do! That is the opposite of what Jesus did.
Jesus didn’t stiff-arm non-believers. Think about how ineffective we’d be if we only interacted with other Christians! Business is a unique platform where we get to have relationships with people who have all different types of beliefs. It’s a reason to interact with them daily, live life with them, and show that you genuinely care for them. It’s a unique opportunity to have conversations with people who might not ever step through the doors of a church.
Why would we try to keep those people out?
One important nuance we want to clarify with our leaders is related to selecting people who can “level up.” By that we mean we’re looking for people with potential beyond the role we’re hiring for. We believe leaders should always be working to replace themselves by raising up their team members, and by doing that, they’re preparing themselves and their team for the next opportunity. But, once again, you should always hire the best person for the job, regardless of where they’re at on their faith journey. If we truly believe that God is the one leading this organization and He is the one who transforms people’s hearts, then we should trust that He will do that in people in the right timing. Favoring candidates who share our faith when the role doesn’t require it actually shows a lack of faith. We commit to hire the person who is the best fit for the role and allow their faith to be between them and God. If God desires for them to grow into a role that requires spiritual alignment, we believe He can orchestrate that in perfect timing.
We’re constantly trying to strike the right balance of taking a bold stance regarding our faith in the marketplace, while also being sensitive to ensure we don’t alienate those among us who may not believe what we do. We honestly spend a lot of time talking about the latter. We don’t want to force religion on people. Jesus compelled people, not coerced.
A Different Mission Field (i.e. Not a Church)
We have many things in common with a church, but there are some fundamental differences as well. We’ve come to realize our unique platform of business provides a different mission field than traditional churches. While we never like labeling people, the diagram below generalizes the different groups churches can impact when it comes to faith and those that a business encounter:
Churches often focus on turning seekers into believers, and Sunday morning believers into full-fledged followers whose faith penetrates their daily lives. Then they just try to keep those followers fired up and engaged. In a business, we have those same groups, and we hope their faith grows in a similar way. But there is one more group in a business that is especially important, and that’s the group who isn’t currently seeking. They may not have a faith element to their story and want nothing to do with church. In our business, we’re able to interact with hundreds of people like that daily, including fellow employees, business partners, and customers. We see each of those interactions as a unique, God-given opportunity. Because we are around many of these people every day and are able to develop relationships with them over time, our opportunity for impact is huge.
There is a subtle, but critical nuance when it comes to our posture with non-believers in particular. They aren’t a target. We don’t have some insidious plot to turn people into Christians, and if it comes off as that to a non-believer we’ve missed the whole point. Our responsibility is to listen to God about how to love them best. This is not about us saving people. Only God saves! Our job is to love people in authentic, transparent relationships, regardless of where they are on their faith journey.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t excited if someone comes to faith, but we don’t inappropriately carry the responsibility to “change them.” We don’t want people to feel like a project or feel pressure from us for some hidden agenda. Jesus didn’t love people more if they believed what he did. His love wasn’t dependent on their faith. He created a place for people to belong even before they believed.
Because our mission field is different than that of a church, how we go about this has to look different too. It’s so easy for us to get into “church mode.” When we initially hear the idea of a business that is a ministry it’s natural to think we should institute religious programs, Bible studies, host worship services, add scripture to our advertising, etc. But there is a risk that we can get so focused on connecting and caring for believers and seekers that we risk alienating the non-seekers and squandering that unique, God-given opportunity.
Our mission field is unique, so our approach must be too. That does not mean we hide our faith, but we do intentionally avoid things that divide or make people feel like outsiders. For example, we avoid religious words when there are equally good words that won’t cause non-believers to put up their defenses. For example, instead of saying “minister to,” we say, “intentionally care for.” Instead of “share our testimony,” we “share our story.” Instead of calling something a “Bible study,” we call it a “jumpstart.” But this goes beyond wordsmithing. For example, we may use jumpstarts for Bible study, but we also intentionally mix in some that are purely intended to get to know one another and build relationships.
Fundamentally, our approach is more closely related to a missionary than a traditional church. When a missionary travels across the world to reach a new people-group, their first order of business is to get to know the people. How can they possibly reach that people-group if they know nothing about who they are? Next, they may try to find ways to love on the people by pitching in to help where they can, walking life with them, and simply being a friend. We’ve partnered with hundreds of mission organizations over the years, and in our experience the ones that are most effective share the love of God through relationship, not programs. They acknowledge that people are individuals, each has a unique story, and God wants to show His love to them in a personalized way.
This is not about us saving people. Only God saves! Our job is to truly love people in authentic, transparent relationships. When we show people love through good times and tough times and are transparent and vulnerable about our own faith and struggles, they may become interested in hearing about our why. But we don’t lead with that – we lead with love.