Restoring Eden through businesses
Written by Ruth Marie Paterson
Genesis paints a picture of who we are and what God made us to do. It shows us that work, business, and creativity—or our modern word, “entrepreneurship”—were commanded by God from the beginning.
Genesis 1:28 reads, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (ESV).
It was always God’s intention that we would cultivate the earth and steward its resources, and by doing so, glorify God and provide for ourselves and our families. Of course, sin entered the world, and work became corrupted. Along with sin came difficult work environments, unethical business practices, consumerism, get-rich-quick schemes, and more.
So what do we do? How do we reflect Christ in a world that opposes Him in every sphere, including business? How can we be salt and light in the world?
What redemptive entrepreneurship means
“Redemptive entrepreneurship is to direct our agency and resources toward organization, creation, and innovation to make positive change,” says Philip Yan, the founder and director of Tyndale’s Centre for Redemptive Entrepreneurship. “It aims to bless others and renew cultures.”
Sometimes it feels like we are along for the ride of whatever culture is doing at the time. Maybe culture dictates that we must post a certain amount on TikTok in order to have a successful business, or that we have to create a new product every month, or write a new book every year, and the list goes on. We so often succumb, feeling we must follow the pattern laid before us. Instead of considering whether this is the type of world we want to live in, we go along with the status quo.
In our current culture, Yan believes Christians have often been at the back of the culture, complaining about it and criticizing it. “And then, by the end we consume,” he says. This is where Christian entrepreneurs play an important role. Culture is always changing, and entrepreneurs are at the forefront of ushering in those changes. According to Yan, they “are shaping our culture, our belief, our essence of life.”
So how can we engage in creating the culture, rather than just consuming it?
Restoring and renewing through business
Jesus came to redeem us from sin. He came to make us new and transform us from the inside out. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (ESV).
Redemptive entrepreneurship is about letting Jesus transform us and, as a result, letting our business practices be transformed by Him too. Our work can now be an avenue for showing the redemption Jesus has given us and giving glimpses of a world in line with God’s vision for it.
Damara Melissa, a Christian singer-songwriter and entrepreneur, defines redemptive entrepreneurship as “working towards Eden, creating a vision to help restore our broken world to its original glory.”
She says that as a Christian, her motives for her career are different than they might otherwise be. “I don’t want to be famous for [fame’s] sake or rich for [rich’s] sake. I want to reach people so they can be encouraged, touched, and changed. In everything I do, I want to keep God’s principles at heart.”
One way Melissa has a transformative effect on culture is by mentoring other Christian creatives and helping them share their own gifts. The lasting impact of mentoring and encouraging younger creatives is immeasurable. Each Christian who is encouraged to share their gifts begins transforming their community and being a light for Christ, and a butterfly effect takes place.
“The prayer is that the effects on society will be renewing; they will be things that lead to long-lasting restoration,” says Melissa.
Resources for your journey
As we seek to be transformed and then transform culture, community plays a critical part. According to Pew Research (2019), there are 3.5 million Canadian entrepreneurs, and 630,00 of them identify as Christian. There are a lot of us, but we struggle to find each other and join in meaningful communities.
Wherever you are in your entrepreneurship journey—whether you are part of a successful business or are still in the dreaming and planning stage, there are resources for you. You are not alone in this exciting, terrifying venture.
Tyndale’s Centre for Redemptive Entrepreneurship aims to address the need for community through gatherings, seminars, and even an app, fostering environments where Christian entrepreneurs can connect.
It can provide networking opportunities with other Christian entrepreneurs or help you discover how your business can have positive impacts on society. The centre is also developing a new app called the7000 (the7000.ca), a learning and community hub for Christian entrepreneurs.
If you find you are lacking the courage to start sharing your business ideas, consider Damara Melissa’s newly-launched course, The Brave Creative. The course deals with creating art as Christians, as well as applying Christian principles to the marketing, promotion, and finances involved in creative ventures.
Now is the time to get out there! Be salt and light in this world, being transformed in your heart and mind by the love of Christ and transforming the culture around you.