Last week the Barna Group revealed that 42% of all Americans would be more likely to support a company they knew was managed by Christian principles. Only 3% said they would be deterred from buying from a company because of it’s faith connection.
When you think about basic Christian principles, this makes sense. It seems a Christian company would be fair in their business dealings, have fair employment practices, offer quality products, are honest in their marketing, strive for excellent customer service, set fair prices and abide by fair trade practices. With 40% of the American population willing to support Christian-based companies over other companies, and 50% of the population indifferent, it seems companies could gain a lot by making it known they operate on Christian principles.
What I found most interesting was that the number dropped to 39% of adults between the ages of 27-45 and 29% of those under the age of 26. The percentage of people who would be deterred remained the same, while those indifferent increased to 57% and 71%.
What does this drastic change in numbers say about the impact of our Christian faith in American society?
Maybe it’s simple – consumerism has taken over. Maybe younger Americans care more about the product itself than how it is made or how they are treated. Business principles don’t really matter. If we like a product enough, we’ll buy it – regardless of how the business treats its employees, how the product is made, the customer service we receive, or how much we pay.
However, we are hearing that younger generations are much more concerned with issues of equality and fairness than previous generations have been. Assuming this is true, it seems these younger generations would be much more willing to speak with their money and boycott companies not operating on principles of fairness.
If Christian business principles are all about honesty and fairness, why are young adults so indifferent?
Perhaps it’s simply because young adults are less educated about business practices and how they affect issues of social justice. It takes a lot of research to discover how an organization operates. And when you do take time to do your research, it’s hard to determine what is fact and what is gossip.
Or, could it be that young adults are increasingly indifferent to anything labeled “Christian”? The number of young adults in churches is dwindling and although spirituality is more important than ever, faith labels are less important. Less and less people know what Christianity is all about. Many have no idea what it means for businesses to operate on Christian principles. And unfortunately, there’s the reality that there are companies out there that label themselves as “Christian”, yet don’t do the things we expect.
I’m inclined to think it is probably a combination of consumerism, under-education, and distrust. I do think we’ve come to a place in our history where the things we do speak louder than the words we say. It does seem that more and more people are caring about fair business dealings. Those companies that operate on Christian principles are already one step ahead of other companies. Making it known that they are a Christian-based company will do great things for its influence in American society.
But, it takes more than a label. Simply claiming to be based on Christian principles is not enough. Business practices and dealings should speak louder than any label used. It’s not about “being Christian” – it’s about living like Christ.
I met an inspirational business owner recently. Him and his wife are Christians and started the business with the purpose of making it Christ-centred. They capped their own salaries, and give tons of benefits to the employees, including the opportunity to go build orphanages in Haiti (with money that the employees helped make). They pay their suppliers right away, not making interest on money that is not theirs. They have been the talk of the town and for several years now, everyone is trying to get a job working for him. That is such a great witness!
This is the kind of story that I love to hear. It is exactly this kind of company that I would be much more likely to support!! Thanks for sharing this incredible witness.