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Founder, Living Stones Foundation, which provides financial grants to startups in enterprise development and women's ministries, in U.S., Central/South America, Europe, and Israel

Founder of numerous businesses, including Inmac (mail-order computer accessories) and Ariba Technologies (a supply chain management company)

B.A. and M.B.A., Stanford University

Living Stones Foundation
3000 Sand Hill Road
Building 1, Suite 145
Menlo Park, CA 60187
On Kingdom Business (Crossway Books, 2003)

Ken Eldred: Kingdom Business

By The 700 Club The Gospel in the Marketplace

Over one quarter of the world's population has little opportunity to hear the Gospel because the countries they live in are closed to missionaries. In today's economy, these same people spend a great deal of energy finding a job and attaining economic development. Ken says that using business as a mission tool is not a new concept. "Starting with the apostle Paul and going right through the centuries, business has played a key role in missions," he says.

Ken believes that "kingdom entrepreneurs" are job makers. "They start actual, for-profit business of all sizes that meet real needs," Ken says. "They are business owners called by God to do ministry through full-time businesses that produce tangible goods and services." While there has been some success for business as a mission tool, it is not accepted as a mainstream option. Ken says that there is a widespread feeling in the Christian world that business is second to a "higher calling" of ministry. "When I became a Christian over 30 years ago, I thought I had to give up business to become a pastor," says Ken. "I wrestled with this concept when I was struggling with what I should do with my life: ministry or business." In his final analysis, Ken believes God put him in business where he could minister to his employees and the business community in general. "I realized I could do both," Ken says.

Business and Faith

Businesspeople see their role as a way to demonstrate their faith to those around them. Business may also be a way to help Christians who need a job and are in a market where employment for Christians is impossible because of their faith. "Business may be seen as an opportunity to win many for Christ, to reach an entire city, and possibly influence the thought process and views of those who lead the country," says Ken.

In the last 80 years, as developing nations like India, China, and Eastern bloc nations were moving toward communism or socialism as an economic model, the idea of capitalism and business became irrelevant. As a mission tool, business was no longer useful. With the end of the Cold War, nations began to realize that socialism was a dead end and moved toward capitalism. Today developing nations are asking for teachers, doctors, and businessmen to improve conditions in their countries. Ken says we need to send people who are appropriately prepared as professional missionaries and businesspeople. A strong suit in one and not the other will not be enough. As the coeditor of On Kingdom Business, Ken and other contributors included case studies of actual kingdom businesses and reviews of the case studies from both a business and a ministry perspective. Using this model of business as a tool for spreading the Gospel, the church can harness its energies to work and witness in strategic places previously unreached by the Gospel.

More than 30 years ago, Ken accepted the Lord into his life. "I thought I was called to be a businessman," says Ken. "And I was prepared to lay it down to serve the Lord in ministry." When God opened the doors for him to be in business in the 1980s, he started a successful mail-order computer accessories business, which went public in 1986. Ken also started Ariba Technologies, which also went public. Both of these ventures provided significant funds for his foundation.

In the wake of corrupt businesses, Ken says his focus is not on accumulating wealth. His public support organization, Living Stones Foundation, has provided financial support for Christian work and charities around the world. Some grant recipients include Regent University, Concerned Women for America (the nation's largest public policy organization for women that restores the family to its traditional purpose), and Alpha Pregnancy Center (a Christ-centered pregnancy center).

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