Posts Tagged ‘Christian Business thinking’

Business – for a change

November 27, 2013

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He was described as “cheery, talkative, flamboyant and warm-hearted.”

He was the owner of the Gloucester Journal newspaper in the late 1700’s. Evidently sensitive to the needs in society all around him, his first concern were the poor in Gloucester Prison and particularly those who whose families could not provide for them. Raikes used his paper to make people aware of these needs and to appeal for help. This led to a concern for the children of poor families. He was horrified to see children running wild in the streets without education or real hope. Raikes realised that the prisons were full of people whose lives had been shaped by disadvantaged childhood. Many of the children in the street on a Sunday were working long hours for the other six days and earning pitiful wages. He realised that education was vital and started to fund and promote his idea of Sunday Schools.

As well as publicising the schools he funded much of the cost. His first school began with four women who were paid to teach from the Bible. Robert Raikes himself got involved in the work of the schools by encouraging the children, visiting them in their homes and giving rewards for good progress. Children were welcomed to the classes, whatever their state, and the schools quickly became known as “Raikes’ Ragged School”.

Raikes used his newspaper to make the schools known and the idea spread quickly with interest springing up across the country. Before long, Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, heard of the work and granted him an audience. She was so impressed that she encouraged others to follow his example.

By 1830 over a million children were involved in classes across the country which became the forerunner of the English school system. The evident benefit of these classes led to blossoming social enterprises such as sewing classes, sports clubs and societies for mutual improvement and excursions.

Robert Raikes’ desire to see change in disadvantaged peoples’ lives, began with the prison near his newspaper premises, and the children in the streets where he lived and worked. He engaged with the problem and used his influence and resources in a timely and innovative way. His passionate action fuelled a process that changed England and Great Britain.

Timely and innovative use of influence and wealth changed a nation.

Surely it is time for people of passion and faith to express their conviction and see change now? As a nation we have largely abandoned Christian values and dumbed down those who might speak up for integrity and healthy society. With the nation anxious about knife crime and drug culture, we have a new generation of ‘ragged children.’ The challenge is for people who have the faith, motivation and resources to personally get involved in the challenge.

John Manwell is one of the founders of the North West Christian Business Forum – there are now several hundred members across the North West of England. http://www.nwcbf.org/

Negative Interest

March 4, 2013

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The Bank of England is considering negative interest rates. The UK’s credit rating has slipped. Surely this is further evidence that the banking system is broken and that the government has run out of levers to pull to stimulate the economy? The government has bailed out the banks, and now wants the banks to bail out the government! Maybe now is the time to start to think about the real issues and the real solution.

When Saint Paul wrote 2000 years ago about the triple qualities of ‘faith, hope and love’ he probably was not thinking about solutions to a triple dip recession, but maybe there is an application right now?

There is plenty of cash in the world economy. The problem is that those with the cash are hesitating about investing. It is all about confidence in where the economy is going, and confidence is based on trust, which is really faith. Those with faith are the ones who are investing and starting new ventures.

The world is increasingly filled with insecurity about the future. People and economic markets, whether investors or consumer spending are depressed about the outlook. Those with hope are able to operate with a different kind of liberty and sense of vision. Those with a Biblical framework for understanding the world can see their own place and purpose without anxiety. The people of hope can give others hope. In a world awash with hopelessness, the currency of the future is hope.

We can have great confidence (faith) for the days we are in, and sure-footed steps for the future (hope) but all of this can only be held together if we have authentic relationships. Investors want to know the people they are investing in. Workers want to be treated as people with families and friends. Businesses need to be part of communities. Much of this has been lost in our age of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ replacing community. Investors and workers have lost touch with each other. Families seem disconnected from the stockholders. The glue we need to help us stick together is love. When we have meaningful relationships, trust seems to develop and our thinking is guided with hope.

The principles of faith, hope and love are timeless, and truly are at the heart of what our society and economy needs. More than the cheap alternatives of political correctness, diversity and equality.

Paul gave us profound wisdom:

Three things remain: Faith , hope and love. The greatest of these is love.

It really is time for those with faith, hope and love to step forward. All three are required at the same time.