Since 1930, CBMC has reached out to enable a "movement of God among business and professional leaders in every nation, resulting in lasting life change that continues to multiply." The ministry's focus is evangelism and discipleship in the marketplace to reach business and professional leaders, believing that they will impact the world.
Christian Business Men's Association is holding the 8th CBMC World Convention and celebrating thier 75th anniversary on July 20-23, 2005 in Seoul, South Korea with an expected attendance of 3,500.
The Christian Post had the opportunity to interview Paul Johnson, Vice President of Training and Leadership of CBMC Intl, about some of the developments within the ministry and in the larger movement for Christ, worldwide.
How has CBMC grown in the last 75 years?
We are in 80 countries on all 6 continents.
When did the growth happen?
It's been slow and steady growth over the last twenty years, much of that growth taking place in the last ten years.
Is there a reason for why that growth is more prominent in the last ten years?
It is a movement of the Holy Spirit. It's not a result of our wise planning or efforts. We believe strongly in looking where God's working and joining Him and responding to opportunities that we received.
For example, in December this past year, I received a business call from a businessman in the country of Iran. He's doing business there for the last twenty years. He's a gentleman from India, and he had been looking at our website. He is in Bahrain, a Muslim country on the Arabian Persian Gulf there, so we connected with him. We hooked him up with some people in Singapore, who were in common business, and we hooked him up with people in India who did business in Iran. They were able to assist him in getting the group started.
We found that the best result has been when we responded to the leads that God gives us rather than trying to do something by our own efforts.
How many other Muslim countries are involved with CBMC?
Several countries. Obviously we have to be careful because some of the countries are hostile to what we're doing. We do have ministry in Pakistan, Turkey, and several other countries.
Are there are many opportunities to preach to Muslim-majoirty countries.
Opportunities are there. Many people who are going into these closed countries are going in as business people, and in the course of an American doing business in Turkey, you're engaging people in what's real in their life. Then they happen to relate the gospel to people and engage people in the spiritual.
Do you have an example?
It's always difficult when you're talking about [the] spiritual. You're asking about success. From our standpoint, success is moving people one step closer to Christ. That's our evangelism.
So you've got an example of an American doing business in Turkey, engaging people in spiritual conversations. I have one guy in mind, who has been in Turkey for ten years. He has had success in building relationships with clients, and in the process of doing so, he has seen many people come to Christ.
What is CBMC's membership?
40-50,000 people. 50-60 people working full time. Most of the people that are involved in our work are businesspeople and want to use their business as a platform to share Christ.
What makes CBMC so successful? How can a business professional be spiritual and do missions at the same time.
I think there's a growing awareness here in the U.S. and around the world that spirituality is more and more acceptable in the workplace because people are becoming more integrated with all aspects of their life. As Christians, we want that spirituality to be focused on Christ.
I think that success really has to do with people who have come to a relationship with Christ, who have seen that their business is a place with ministry opportunities, and then becoming a satisfied customer, they can tell other people about Christ because it's worked in their lives. It's not a preacher telling someone about Jesus; it's one businessperson telling another businessperson about Jesus. It's one professional leader telling another professional leader about Jesus.
According to research studies, growth in America has stagnated, while growth in the world has boomed. Do you have any ideas as to why it appears that there is so much growth in the rest of the world, while America is stagnating?
Its not that it's not working in America, but the more we experience the reality of globalization, the more we see what God is doing in other parts of the world. God is doing great things all over the world, and He's continuing to do great things in the U.S. It's just that we're more aware of what's happening around the world.
I think there is a certain degree of truth that the Spirit is working greater ways in some other areas, and I think that's just part of history. If you look at the beginning of Christianity, it spread from Jerusalem. From Jerusalem, it spread to the utmost parts of the world. Christianity grew. It grew into Europe and spread over into the United States. Now it's expanding into Africa, and etc. Now the expansion is much more global. A big part of that was the Internet.
How does your ministry try to bridge the generational gap? Are there younger business professionals in your ministry? How does your ministry reach out to a younger person?
Yes we are working on reaching out to the younger business professional, recognizing that the emerging leader of today is the leader of tomorrow, but it's a difficult thing for us to do without having them in the discussion with us. It's like getting a bunch of football players together to make a baseball team. We really don't know how to do it. In order to be successful in engaging a 25-year-old professional, we've got to find out what their needs are and work with them to make them feel a part of the cause that's bigger than themselves.
How does CBMC operate?
CBMC operates on prayer. People pray for their friends who don't know Christ yet, and then we go into the evangelism phase, and that's relationship. Then, we move into a phase called discipleship, and again that's relationship. Then we move into a team-building phase. And so all of our efforts revolve around this team. So there are small groups with anywhere from eight to 15 people, and as groups grow, they replicate by multiplying leaders.
We use the small group growth model.
What are some of the top issues for CBMC?
I think a top issue facing us here in the United States and around the world is finance. There are more opportunities than there are resources available. It's not that the money isn't there, but that the money hasn't been freed up for Christ purposes.
CBMC has partnered with Crown Financial Ministries out of Atlanta, Georgia and in a number of different parts around the world, and their goal is to partner with the Church to develop a better understanding of the Biblical principles of money, of stewardship, believing that if Christians understood God's Word, and freed up God's resources, that there would be all the money needed to do all the things that God wants to do. So we believe that money is a problem. There are great parts of the Christian world where they don't understand stewardship at all, and people keep looking to the United States to provide for all their financial needs when they need to look to God to provide for all their financial needs.
Can you touch upon one positive development in the ministry world?
I think that one of the positive issues is the increased opportunity for ministries to collaborate together. Traditional ministries have done their own thing, but in the last five to 10 years, we see a growing movement of people willing to work together. People of God in key leadership positions have come together and cast away their own agendas, or their own organizational agendas and remember that we're Kingdom builders with a big "K" rather than a little "k." It's all about expanding God's Kingdom, not man's kingdom, and so there's a great opportunity there along with challenges and obstacles, of course.
Why is it happening now and not before?
Part of it is the maturing movement. Part of it is the maturing of leaders of movements and a growing recognition that we're all in this together and that we can accomplish more by working together than by working on parallel tracks.
Which part of the world will be the next leader in Christianity?
While there are great things happening all around the world, I think that Asia is probably the place where Christian leadership will take place or is already taking place, specifically out of Korea.
Why do you say that? I noticed that the 2005 CBMC World Convention is going to take place out of S. Korea.
Well there is such a tremendous vibrancy of people who are followers of Jesus. I hear story after story where prayer is the basis of everything that is happening there spiritually. Almost every morning of every day and every week, thousands of people in auditoriums across the nation are getting up to pray from 5 to 6 AM, and then it'll empty out and fill up with another thousand people who will pray from 6 to 7. There are what's called prayer caves in Korea up in the mountains, and people are praying up there 24 hours a day, every day of the week, every week of the year. When you see things happening in Korea, it's a result of people's expected prayer, their vibrant prayer. So that's why I see that as one of the key spiritual leaders of the future.
Other than the World Convention, are there any other national events that CBMC holds?
Most of our member countries around the world hold their own national event every year, and thats an opportunity for the leadership to come together and celebrate their fellowship, just acknowledge what God has done through the ministry in previous years. In addition, we conduct a number of different training opportunities throughout the year in countries around the world.
There is a very large ministry for men called Promise Keepers. What are some of the similarities and differences that CBMC may have with PK?
We're different. There are some similarities. There's an attempt to make Christianity applicable to the daily life, whether at work or in the home. It's not just a Sunday thing or a Wednesday thing, but all of life should be impacted by Christ. That's the major similarity.
I think that the main difference is that our primary focus is evangelism and discipleship in the marketplace. Everything we do is filtered through that purpose, and so we have found that God has called us to a different role. Theirs is more equipping for fellowship and worship, and ours is more equipping for task of evangelism and discipleship.
In 1999 Paul joined the CBMC International team and is currently the Vice President for Training and Leadership Development. Paul Johnson has been involved with CBMC since 1979 when he was introduced to the local ministry team in Stillwater, Minn. After taking an active leadership role in the local ministry, he was invited to join the CBMC USA full-time staff in 1985, serving in Minnesota and later as part of the USA National Leadership Team.
Educated at Metropolitan State University and Bethel Theological Seminary, he holds advanced degrees in Counseling and Theology. He is a chartered member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and was recognized as one of the Outstanding Young Men of America in 1987.