People create companies, and companies influence culture.
Dov Charney, for example, founded American Apparel to pioneer the Made in the USA sweatshop-free model of transparent manufacturing. He had other goals, too—to make casualwear sexy. He created “hipster porn” ad campaigns and gave interviews while performing sexual acts. Although the board ultimately dismissed him after he faced allegations of sexual harassment, Charney made his mark—for better or worse—on his company and the culture at large.
Compare and contrast American Apparel with Chick-fil-A.
Both companies want to provide fair wages to their employees and be transparent in their dealings. But Chick-fil-A’s leadership wants “to glorify God” in everything they do—from how they treat their customers to how they cook their food. And their influence goes beyond their front doors—giving free food to the Orlando shooting blood donors, opening foster homes for children, and closing on Sundays to give employees a day of rest.
When Christians create companies, they influence culture—hopefully, for the better.
In this short video, American Apparel and Chick-fil-A aren’t discussed, but the idea that business leaders influence culture—for better and worse—is at the forefront of the conversation.
Greg Thornbury, president of The King’s College in New York City, proposes a provocative question: Can we replace “ministry” with “business” when a young person says, “I feel called to go into ministry because I want to change culture”? He says, “It seems, to me, one of the obstacles we need to overcome is to prove to people that you can glorify God just as much in the marketplace as you can in the church or on the foreign mission field.”
Watch as four Christian leaders—Thornbury, Katherine Leary Alsdorf (founder of the Center for Faith & Work), Chris Brooks (senior pastor of Evangel Ministries), and Dave Blanchard (founder of Praxis)—and several Christian entrepreneurs share their thoughts, questions, and stories about the role of business to advance the kingdom of Christ in the world.
Editors’ note: This video was produced by the Values & Capitalism initiative of the American Enterprise Institute.