By Fr. Herb Schneider, BCBP Spiritual Director
(The following was delivered by Fr. Herb at the Subic International Convention Center during the Business Forum launcing the Institute for Business Transformation)
First I want to greet all of you a very happy and a very blessed 38th anniversary. What I would like to do this morning is to give a sort of a framework on why we are doing this Business Forum.
I would like to begin with the year 1980. At that time, I, together with the leaders of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community, became convinced that the Charismatic Prayer Group, from which most of us came, was turning out to be a very limited resource for the kind of men and women needed to build a community.
Most of those attending the prayer meeting were married women without their husbands and who were unable to bring their husbands to the prayer meeting. We knew that you could not really build a community with only one of the spouses.
But how do we evangelize the men?
So that year, we went again to the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor Michigan for training in community building.
While there I was invited to a businessmen’s breakfast and as I participated it was as if the Lord tapped me on the shoulder saying, “Here is your answer to evangelizing men. Observe everything carefully, miss nothing. And when you get back to Manila, start something like this — a businessmen’s breakfast back in Manila and try to bring people in managerial position to the breakfast. These men will have many of the gifts you need to build a community.”
And so in 1980 we began with a men’s breakfast at the Makati Sports Club. We knew that contrary to the ladies at the prayer Meeting, the men who came to the breakfast would have no problem bringing their wives along and so it turned out.
The businessmen’s breakfast at the Makati Sports Club was really the birth of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP). At the beginning a community as it exists today was not envisaged, but as more and more men came to the breakfast it became clear to us that a support environment, a community was needed.
To make a long story shorter, the BCBP came into existence with its own way of life and with a double mission: 1) To bring Christ to the marketplace And 2. To win the marketplace for Christ.
The first part of that statement, to bring Christ into the marketplace and into the professions, meant for us to evangelize decision-makers in business and to win the marketplace for Christ meant with these converted leaders to change the way business is usually done into the way of Christ.
It is the second purpose of our mission that determines and determined over the years the kind of people we wanted to evangelize and win for Christ.
Bringing Christ into the Marketplace
The breakfast became not only the entrance to the BCBP. It also was for many the beginning of living and working as disciples of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The process goes something like this. A member brings a guest (colleague from the office) to the breakfast. Here he comes in contact with men, who are regular guys, but who also love the Lord. He hears testimonies of how others have found the Lord and the difference it had made in their lives.
Through the ongoing attendance and being in contact with committed disciples, the desire for more grows in these new comers. They are then invited with their wives to participate in the BCBP’s Christian Life Program (BCLP), a 12-week seminar leading not only to adult conversion, but also to taking steps to assure growth as a follower of Christ.
The BCLP is similar to the Rite of Initiation of Adults of the Catholic Church. During the BCLP. the participants are led to straighten out if there is anything in their lives that needs to change. They are encouraged to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, they are prayed with for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit or a renewal of the grace of baptism and confirmation and finally they are led to adopt habits that assure ongoing growth in following the Lord.
At the end of the BCLP the participants will be invited to become members in formation of the BCBP and go through a year or so of basic formation in living a committed Christian life the BCBP way. At the end of their basic formation they are invited to become commited members of the BCBP and in this way find in the community the support they need to persevere in following the Lord. But all of this is in the service of the second half of our mission: „to win the marketplace for Christ
Winning the Marketplace for Christ
The BCBP was successful from the beginning in its efforts to evangelize busnessmen and professionals. We knew that Christ comes into the marketplace when disciples bring him with them into their places of work and only the men and women who are part of the marketplace and the professions can change the face of business. All efforts at evangelizing decision-makers in business, giving them formation, and the support of a BCBP chapter community have for their purpose enthroning God and his Christ as King in business and the professions.
To accomplish the most important part of its mission the BCBP needs men and women who are not only in love with God and committed follower of Jesus, but men and women who have understood, accepted and interiorized the call to be God’s stewards over creation and committed to incarnating the justice of God in their business environments.
But how do you implement the second part of our vision? It definitely begins with each BCBP member being honest, just, upright, a person of integrity and transparency in the workplace. In other words, living out faithfully our “Be Honest Campaign.”
In addition, we want to raise up men and women of vision and passion to make their business ventures a blessing for all their stakeholders.
We want to raise up men and women who desire to create work places and jobs for the many who are now unable to find employment. We want men and women, who desire to share the benefits that result from their business venture with their employees, who desire to so structure and organize work that their employees can apply their gifts, talents, and creativity to the job and through it grow as human beings by developing their potential.
We want to raise up men and women, who try to make their companies serve the wider community, but above all to provide products and services that truly are beneficial. We want men and women who care for the environment and the list coulld go on. Above all men and women, who act, work and move their business forward as stewards of a God who created this world and its goods for the good and benefit of all.
Winning the marketplace for Christ is not a common activity for which the chapter can organize a team. It has to be the work of individuals in their own offices and companies. There is no structure the chapter can follow. And so for years nothing much happened in this area, although we knew in general what was involved in the second part of our mission.
Winning the marketplace for Christ is important to our Lord and He who called the BCBP into existence wants us to be faithful to the entirety of our mission. In his mercy and goodness he began to help us so much so that I am convinced that this is the time of special grace for us in this area.
In 2015 the former President of the Ateneo de Manila University gave me the invitation of UNIAPAC to the Thailand Conference. Fr. Nebres thought that it would be of interest to the BCBP. From the program it was clear that the conference would help us understand the second part of our mission in a clearer way. What I did not realize was how important attending that conference would be for the BCBP. First of all there was the booklet, “The Vocation of the Business Leader,” that that was the foundation of that Conference. It described the vision or paradigm our business leaders would need to adopt in order to win the marketplace and the professions for Christ.
Even more important, it was the beginning of a relationship with UNIAPAC. The BCBP became a member of UNIAPAC. This made it possible for Joey Avellana, then president of BCBP, and myself to attend the Rome Conference in November of 2016. Subsequently we organized a small retreat and brainstorming session with a small group of business leaders of the BCBP to begin moving the second part of our mission forward.
I believe that, finally, after 38 years of the existence of the BCBP and 38 years of doing the first part of its mission well, the time has now come for the BCBP to move forward boldly to win the maketplace for Christ.
As a major step forward, the BCBP will launch today the Institute for Business Transformation. May our Lord bless this venture and make it a powerful tool for winning the marketplace and the professions for God’s glory.