I've been reading a series of post by Mark Roberts, a Presbyterian Pastor from Texas. His posts have tried to answer the question: why do we not pray for business? He notes we pray for our leaders in government and other sectors of life, but when it comes to the business world, prayers are few and far between. His final answer to his original question is the most prescient: pastors have been trained to view the business world in a negative light.
I think Roberts is on to something there especially when it comes to mainline Protestant churches. I've been a mainline Protestant long enough to know that we are supposed to not like big business. I see it in the writings of major theologians and in the musings of local pastors. When business is talked about, it is viewed as something that is destructive to our communities and not as something that can be a social good.
The problem is, there are a lot of people sitting in our pews who work in major corporations. Minneapolis is home to a lot of major corporations and at least at the church where I pastor, there are a lot of people who have or at once did work for such major business titans as Target, 3M, Wells Fargo and Cargill. Is it fair to them to basically tell them that what they do for a living is evil?
Now, I'm not saying that we should praise business or be uncritical or its actions. I do see a role for the prophetic at times. The problem is that many mainline churches are reflexively prophetic, thinking that any business is automatically in the wrong. Pastors end up doing the people sitting in the pews a grave disservice, because we don't help them find a way to live a Christian life during their work-a-day world.
Roberts notes that evangelical churches tend to be a bit more business friendly, and I tend to agree. Sometimes that might lead to not being critical when the times call for it, but I think our evangelical sisters and brothers are a little more hip on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in all of our lives, including the parts that take place between 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday.
I'm thinking that I will start including those who work for businesses in my prayers. Businesspeople need prayers too.
h/t: Michael Kruse