Marketplace Ministry: A Closer Look at Christian Business-Owners in 2020
By Carl Stagner
Owning a business—it’s successes, as well as its failures—is no walk in the park. Throw a pandemic into the mix, complete with workplace adjustments for safety and related economic effects, and you’ve got a real challenge on your hands. But for Christian business-owners, the walk that counts is their journey with Jesus and the impact it has on their customers, employees, and partners. Theresa Robertson, Sharon Montgomery, and Dick Shaffer are three examples of the many exemplary business-owners in the Church of God movement today. A closer look at the what and the why behind their businesses demonstrates the power of day-to-day ministry, outside the walls of the church, in the marketplace of life.
You may know Theresa Robertson for her extensive involvement in the CDP (Chesapeake, Delaware, Potomac) region of the Church of God, or for her role as the national coordinator for Leadership Focus. But Theresa is also the founder and president of My Office Professionals. Specializing in providing an extensive variety of virtual administrative assistant services for ministry and secular jobs, My Office Professionals has benefited from nine agents, eight of them with ties to the Church of God. Need a letter written, flyer created, or travel arranged? How about social media services, business coaching, website design, and software training? Theresa’s business handles all these tasks remotely, and much more. In fact, when the pandemic began, demand for her industry increased. Consider, for instance, what she’s described as “Zoom facilitator services.”
“What I am finding is that the people who reach out to me are overwhelmed already, and they just need someone to walk with them through the maze of available options,” Theresa explains. “Sometimes it’s as simple as choosing between Constant Contact and Mailchimp; other times it is learning how to host a Zoom meeting and mastering some of the Zoom features they see others are using. I have a natural curiosity about technology and, as fast as I can, I share information with one group about new software, or a new platform, or a new way of doing something. The technology landscape is always changing, growing, and evolving; my one advice to everyone is that you don’t need to do, get, or buy everything you see. Keep your systems as simple as possible, and commit yourself to learning one new thing every day.”
Theresa’s testimony of God’s plan playing out in her life is remarkable. Her witness carries over into every facet of her business, and she’s not ashamed to give God the glory. She reflects, “My clients appreciate me because I offer free training, weekly coaching, and because I operate with a high level of integrity. I love what I do. Jesus is my CEO!”
Sharon Montgomery is the president and owner of Best Weld in Anderson, Indiana. She’s executive pastor for Celebration Church at Arrow Heights, but when she’s not serving the local church, she’s serving the community through her business. As the name suggests, hers is a welding company, and this particular welding company specializes in repairing steel material racks and containers for car manufacturers. This is a valuable service to car manufacturers, as Best Weld can repair these otherwise very expensive containers for a fraction of the cost of replacement.
When the coronavirus crisis struck, the impact had a devastating effect on many businesses. Thankfully, Pastor Sharon’s businesses weathered the storm well. Other than having to be closed for a week and add sanitizing stations and other COVID-19 modifications, she reports no significant impact. In fact, her business, like many others, were blessed with grant funds from government pandemic relief measures.
The most notable achievement of Best Weld is its direct impact on its employees. A video story (see below) created by Connor Carr Productions recently captured the essence of the transformational aspect of Sharon’s business. She explains, “We are very conscious of the employees and trying to help them. We hire felons, people who have had trouble with the law—prison or jail with a record—if they’re out and want to make a change in their lives, we will hire and train them. We’ve done that ever since I’ve had the business. There are some really good stories.” Christians in business are bound to be a blessing!
Haskin Electric is the name of the business owned by Dick Shaffer. A board member (and chairman) for many years at Vancouver Church in Washington State, Dick has led his employees to help create a trusted brand in their community. Covering “the whole gamut” of electrician work, Dick describes Haskin Electric as industrial labor, including commercial installation and remodeling work, as well as residential wiring and maintenance/repair.
Unlike Theresa’s and Sharon’s businesses, the pandemic has had an adverse effect on Haskin Electric’s everyday working environment. Quarantining and COVID-19 testing have been necessary for employees more than once due to virus exposure. In spite of these challenges, however, God has blessed Dick’s business even more than he could have imagined. Dick believes the booming economic rebound, coupled with people having more time on their hands due to the pandemic, has people itching for home repair and remodeling. “This will probably be one of the most successful years we’ve had in years…people want to invest in building,” he remarks.
Over the years, Dick has been involved extensively in international missions, but now he appreciates the opportunity to work in the mission field right before him during business hours. “I’m now seventy years old,” he explains. He says though many his age are retired, “I’m not. God is still using me, my witness, my testimony, and my accountability to the business world and my customers.”
What about aspiring entrepreneurs? Theresa Robertson, of My Office Professionals, has some advice: “I always tell them that the first and most important decision an entrepreneur has to make is whether or not they want to be an entrepreneur. If that decision has been made, then they are already in business for themselves and now they have to get busy doing all things that other business-owners have to do. You have to figure out what product or service you will offer, how much to charge, who your clients are, and how they will find you. If you still need funding, then you begin working to figure it all out, but you don’t wait until you have everything in place before you start thinking like a business-owner. I learned that, if God calls you to do something, he will make provision for you. I also learned to operate my business with my hands open—meaning I surrender it all to God, and I am open to receive what he has for me and to follow his lead. If he tells me to let it go, to change something, or to do something, I need to have the flexibility to follow him. I can give you example after example where the Holy Spirit prompted me to do or not do something and he has proven to me that he knows best. I still do my homework, I study, I read, and I listen to others, but I follow his lead; in so doing, I just give God something to work with.”
Learn more about the Church of God at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.