When it comes to the rules of religion, the Ten Commandments immediately come to mind – do not steal, do not bear false witness, and so on.
But when it comes to business, those rules can get a little murky; what are the rules of business? Are there even any? In this day and age of seemingly corrupt banks, failing economies and insincere politicians, the question is becoming more important by the day.
For the past 28 years, the Canadian Christian Business Federation has sought to reconcile business practices with religious belief, and on Jan. 20 the group will hold its first breakfast meeting in Elmira.
The CCBF is a forum for business owners to get together and network with each other, while simultaneously discussing their concerns and problems with the interaction of faith and their work.
The group holds monthly breakfast meetings across the country and is an opportunity for business leaders and professionals to talk about workplace issues and how they are impacted by biblically-based leadership principles. Everyone is welcome, from CEOs and chiropractors to those representing non-profits and educational institutions.
Groups follow a five-year ‘curriculum’ based on the NIV Leadership Study Bible, which challenges participants to apply biblical principles to their roles within their businesses or professions.
“The whole notion really is that if you’re a Christian person worshipping on Sunday, it’s important to practice what you preach,” said executive director Keith Knight, who will be facilitating the talk at The Crossroads restaurant in Elmira.
“It’s important throughout your work week to live out those principles and to apply what you learn in terms of honesty and integrity.”
Christianity is not a Sunday ritual, said Knight, adding that it’s a lifestyle that permeates all that we do throughout the week.
“When a Christian is engaged in business, he or she is engaged in ministry.”
For Knight that assertion means many things. He said that Christian businesses must produce goods and services with respect and care for creation, and they must promote harmonious labour relations and a meaningful work experience through management practices, including treating employees fairly, by providing a good wage, and by being sensitive to an employee’s family needs.
Membership has grown by about 35 per cent over the past year, said Knight, and there are currently 18 chapters across the country but that should increase to about 25 in 2012. They range from across southern Ontario including Ancaster, Brantford, Chatham, Guelph, London and Niagara to Winnipeg and Edmonton, with Saskatoon and British Columbia next on their list.
The creation of the Kitchener-Waterloo chapter has come at the request of local members. There is currently one operating in Cambridge, but Knight said the time was right to expand to Waterloo Region.
“It’s a good location. It’s really the heart it seems in terms of the Christian community as well.”
The Jan. 20 meeting will decide where future meetings will be held, and Knight said that the group may very well set up a chapter in both Kitchener and Waterloo, depending upon the interest, and resources are emailed to participants prior to the meetings.
“For many people they have struggled on their own as they’ve tried to figure out for themselves what it means to be a Christian business,” said Knight, who has more than 40 years of experience working in both the secular and religious business world, including time spent as a reporter and editor for various weekly and daily newspapers, as well as communications director for the Presbyterian Church of Canada and interim editor for the Anglican Journal.
“The economy is tough and it’s getting harder to make ends meet, so we’re seeing more reasons to provide mutual support and encouragement to do that work.”
Questions that might challenge some business owners include how much profit should they make on goods or services they provide? What is a fair wage or reasonable benefits? How do I deal with employees who steal or are consistently late for work?
The aim of the CCBF is to help business owners answer these and other tough questions.
The CCBF also includes what they call an INTURN program which places Christian university business students with CCBF members, providing hands-on internship experience in an appropriate office environment.
“Over the next couple of years the INTURN program will be expanded to Christian universities across Canada, connecting students with business leaders in their communities,” Knight said.
He also said that members come from a wide range of evangelical and Presbyterian denominations, and more information is available at their website, www.ccbf.org.
The breakfast meeting on Jan. 20 starts at 7:30 a.m. and is open to anyone involved in business. To reserve your seat email Knight at email@example.com. The meeting is free, with individuals covering only the cost of their meal, and it is co-sponsored by Faith FM.