Manitoba’s Steinbach Bible College offers Marketplace & Ministry courses for students, community
Terry Kaufman worked in his family’s lumber business for a decade. Then he served as a pastor for
almost 17 years.
Now he is drawing on the experiences of both of those careers. As head of Steinbach Bible
College’s Marketplace & Ministry leadership program, he is helping students and seasoned entrepreneurs alike connect their vocation with their Christian faith.
The need for the program is rooted in two realities. Three-quarters of the college’s graduates do not end up working as pastors or in any other form of vocational ministry.
At the same time, “as the capital C Church, we’ve done a horrible job of training business leaders to be ministers in their work,” he said.
“There doesn’t seem to be much of this kind of thing (faith and business integration) around (at other colleges),” he said.
In an article written for In Touch, SBC’s bi-annual newsletter, Kaufman wrote: “Our less than robust picture of Marketplace ministry requires that we need to increase our attention …(to) ‘works of service.’
“The works of service that build up the body of Christ are not found only within the walls of the local church, they can also be found behind the sales counter, in the board rooms, in the carpenter’s or mechanic’s shops, in the sales offices of marketplaces and in professional environments.”
In 1978, Kaufman joined a family lumber yard that his father had started 14 years earlier. That business eventually became a HomeAll Building Centre, (now Home Building Centres), part of the Home Hardware co-operative of over 1,000 independently owned stores
He later did a master’s degree in theology and went on to serve as a pastor at Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church in Steinbach.
Kaufman currently works part time as a leadership catalyst for the Evangelical Free Church, and half time at the college.
Steinbach is an ideal location for the Marketplace and Ministry leadership program, given that many businesses in southeast Manitoba are operated by people of faith, he said.
The program aims to provide students with “an understanding of the biblical value of work, a Christian worldview to anchor them, and insight to know how to use such a worldview in an effective way in their vocational environment.”
SBC offers both a two-year Marketplace Ministry diploma and a three year Marketplace Ministry degree.
Each winter, Kaufman teaches a class called Introduction to the Marketplace. He hopes all SBC students will have access to this class “so they can be challenged about the ministry aspect of whatever career.”
He also teaches a four-session, evening Business as a Mission class that is open to people from the community and beyond. Last winter, that class had to be done online because of the pandemic.
Thirty six people took part, most of whom were not SBC students. Twelve people, friends from the same Mennonite church in Mexico, got together to join the class. “I think it’s a fabulous model, and it isn’t something that I had planned,” he said.
Kenny Peters, who works with orchards in Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, Mexico, was one of those participants.
Peters took the course “because I have always believed that my workplace should be more than just business. Although I believed this, I have always struggled to incorporate mission with business.
“This course taught me how to incorporate these two, and I especially was challenged to focus on my relationships with my clients. A huge part of business as mission, I learned, was to really focus on establishing a deeper relationship with the people you come in contact with at work.”
Tannis Nickel, a registered nurse and director of care at Steinbach’s Rest Haven Care Home, said the course provided an experience that “was both positive and rewarding.”
“I gained insight to the importance of a strong mission statement not only in your workplace and as a business leader but as a member of the community and follower of God,” she said.
“In order to fully look at business as mission this must include the way that I act, my attitude in what I do, and who I am account- able to, is all to honor God.”
Devyn Bartel, a young financial advisor in Steinbach, enrolled because he had been battling with incorporating his faith into his professional life. He “wanted to see various strategies on how Christ’s love could be shown through a profession.”
Bartel says the class gave him tools and scriptural reminders to address concerns regarding ethical issues that could arise in the workplace. “It gave me a sense of peace of mind knowing that anywhere can be a mission field, even if you are not directly working in a ministerial role.
Terry Wiebe, a former trucking company owner who has operated a Steinbach garden centre with family for the past 20 years, learned about the course from a young man he is mentoring.
“I found the information in the course all-encompassing and practical for living in the marketplace,” he said. “The
ethics of operating a business with Christian ethics versus world ethics I found particularly relevant. Although my life experience is huge, I learned new things and was never bored.”
Future classes will be hybrid, with some asynchronous portions — recorded lectures and materials that students can access at their own pace.
Kaufman is starting conversations with other schools about work-integrated learning possibilities and sector councils that focus on areas that include construction, agriculture, and biotech.
Other goals for the program include building partnerships with area entrepreneurs for internships. “That is very much a piece of the puzzle moving forward.”