This is a serious question for many business owners. Should you advertise your business as Christian and risk backlash from non-Christian customers, or accept it fully and be completely honest with your market?
As Christians and business professionals, we ponder the pros and cons of how Christian businesses are accepted. While being honest about Christian principles and values for a business may prove risky in some markets, I believe it’s what we’re called to do.
Now, when I say we’re called to be honest about our business, I don’t mean you have to print Bible verses on every product you sell or line your storefront or office with Christian messages. At some point, Christian bombardment is costly for any business, so by no means am I proposing to do so.
However, it seems as if the only choice when declaring to be a Christian business is to bombard people. This is false. Being a Christian business owner, entrepreneur or freelancer can take the very image of someone who holds to Christian principles and standards.
Let’s be honest, the image of Christians has been blurred in the last decade, but people still appreciate honesty, excellence, commitment, diligence and kindness in the workplace. You don’t have to advertise these attributes as your “Christianity.” Instead, bring things attributes of your business to life by living them.
A study conducted in 2011 offers some tremendous insight as to how people perceive Christian businesses. The Barna Group, a market research organization, conducted a survey asking two simple questions: if you were going to buy a product or service in the coming year, would you be more likely or less likely to buy a particular brand if you knew it was from…
- A company that manages its business according to Christian principles?
- A company that embraces and promotes Christian faith?
Here are the results of the poll of 1,022 adults from across the U.S. ages 18 and older.
What do these results tell us?
For managing according to Christian principles, about 2 out of 5 adult consumers (43%) said they would prefer the Christian business (with 27% of adults strongly agreeing). Most reported indifferent (51%) and only 3% reported opposition. That means a business operated by Christian principles generated a positive-to-negative ratio of 14 to 1.
For a Christian business that embraces the faith and promotes it, about one-third of adults (37%) said they would prefer this type of business (with 22% of adults strongly agreeing). Again, most were indifferent (58%) and only 3% reported opposition. That means a business that embraces the Christian faith and promotes it generated a positive-to-negative ratio of 12 to 1.
One stat deserving of our attention is the youngest generation of adults polled, called the Mosaics, who reported the least likely to care whether the business displayed Christian faith or principles. As these adults grow older, a shift could occur as to the favorability of Christian businesses.
However, for now, the stats show a favorable response toward Christian businesses, and if anything, people who are indifferent.
Again, I issue a statement of caution. Both these researchers and others admit that overtly Christian businesses are not favorable in the marketplace. People do not want Christianity shoved into their face, nor should they. Consider doing business with someone of another faith and how you would feel if they shoved Islam, Hinduism or Judaism in your face.
To conclude, I leave you with an all-encompassing passage:
“A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35