|Photo by United Nations Photos|
How can the business of coffee itself transform reality for the sake of the Kingdom of God?
To be honest, I am still doing a lot of research on this, but it seems to be the case that daily earnings of the average coffee grower is significantly less than the price of a single cup of the muck they're mass-pouring over at Starbucks. The African "coffee belt" countries in particular have long known more than their fair share of poverty, disease, violence, human trafficking and more. Coffee giants have too often been guilty of ransacking growing areas paying little attention to local wages, pushing low-quality coffee into the market, harming ecosystems (which not only comes at a price measured in flora and fauna but also in long-term agricultural sustainability and thus the livelihoods of people), etc.
What if we could develop businesses that created jobs and professional development, wealth and sustainability? What if the business found a way to form strategic partnerships to address local and global injustices? What if we approached agriculture with a passion to steward God's creation? What if we created third-spaces globally which encouraged redemptive relationships, church-outside-the-walls style engagement with communities, and which otherwise facilitated local disciple-making?
These "what if"s are sending my brain into overdrive (the caffeine helps) as I consider not just ways to make money but a way to do so that is itself mission. Not long ago, I was talking with a very wealthy Filipino business man who loves Jesus and missions. We were talking about coffee and the whole idea of "business as mission". He drew a very important distinction for me. "What we are after, Cody, is not just business that supports missions but an entire model of doing business that is itself mission." That is, we want to create a business that transforms reality for the sake of the Kingdom of Christ. The implications are very wide for us in the coffee industry because it means thinking about the current realities of the coffee growers, the executives and mariners associated with coffee shipping, the servers and baristas and other employees, our customers and all the many families and communities that we touch. What are their current realities? What does God think about those realities? What is God's will for them and what would it look like to bring the Kingdom fully to bear upon those realities?
It is actually very exciting.
Think about a business in your community - perhaps its your own business or workplace. Ask those same questions:
1. List all the people that your business touches and consider the families and communities surrounding those people. What is the current reality for them?
2. What does God think about those realities? How has sin and Satan established footholds and strongholds in those contexts? What is God's will?
3. What would it look like for the Kingdom to come in the context of those realities?
4. How can you business become mission - an agent of Kingdom transformation - in the context of those realities?