Christian Businesses Rising with God as CEO

Time: 'Emboldened by a sympathetic White House, Christian business owners are increasingly meshing prayer with profits—marketing to the like-minded, proselytizing to the unbelieving'

As the 88 million Americans who call themselves born-again Christians rise in politics, culture and society, so too do they in business, according to a recent article featured in Time Magazine.

“Emboldened by a sympathetic White House, Christian business owners are increasingly meshing prayer with profits—marketing to the like-minded, proselytizing to the unbelieving,” Time states in the bonus section of its Aug. 15 edition.

According to Michael Zigarelli, dean of the School of Business at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., there are an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 “Christian owned and operated” businesses in the United States today—approximately 10 percent of all corporations.

In the past five years, listings in the Shepherd’s Guide, the nation’s leading Christian business directory, have more than doubled, Time reported.

While large corporations with Christian foundations—the Curves fitness chain, Chick-fil-A, Servicemaster—have quietly tucked religious principles in mission statements or employee guidelines, Time noted that the new breed of Christian entrepreneurs advertise their faith “loud and clear,” often in their names and logos.

Today, there are Christian banks, car dealerships, gyms, plumbers, financial planners, mortgage lenders, moving companies, building contracts and Internet-service providers.

“Christian entrepreneurs feel confident that their time has come,” the Time feature continued.

Cindy Griffin, the owner of a Christian beauty parlor in Blacksburg, Va., told Time, “In these days the Lord is trying to wake up people, and I think He’s raising more people that are Christians in businesses.”

“He’s given Christians favor because they do listen to Him,” she added.

“Ever since 9/11, I think America as a whole has become maybe a little more religious or spiritual,” said Philip DeLizio, a real estate broker in Glen Burnie, Md., who joined a network of Christian real estate agents. “I’m not going to say that was the reason we went into it, but the Christian community became more of a presence.”

Steven Skow, CEO of faith-based Integrity Bank, said he has been encouraged by President’s Bush’s emphasis on Christian values.

“We’re starting to see faith become popular, right up to our leader, the President of the U.S.,” Skow told Time.

With $590,000 million in assets under management, Skow’s Integrity Bank went public in August 2004, and its stock shot up 108% in late July.

“We’ve been blessed with fast growth and profitability,” said Skow, who earned $215,000 last year. “It’s not me—it’s the people and God’s will that have made this thing successful.”

For Skow and the bank's top officers, every business day begins with prayer.

Although religious hard sells can “absolutely risk alienating” non-Christians, with 4 out of 5 Americans calling themselves Christians and 40% of the population born-again, the possibility of alienating customers is “a risk business owners feel they can afford to take,” said Irene Dickey, a Christian branding expert.

And for many born-again entrepreneurs and established merchants, the dose of faith is paying off – in capital and in decisions for Christ.