Will I Offend Customers With My Christian Business?

So your issue is this: “If I run my business according to my Christian faith, won’t that offend customers?  I cannot take that risk.”If you are seriously considering any Christian connection to your business, then this is certainly a question that has come up.

Offended customer

Either you thought of it or someone you know has tossed it up to you.  Either way, it is a valid question.  After all, based on the news and political issues all around us, it appears that the last thing you want to do is associate your business with anything Christian.  It is too polarizing, right?

Barna Group Study

Surprisingly, it is not as big an issue as you might think!  According to a study conducted by Barna Group (check out the details of the study here), the people that may be offended with any Christian connection to your business are actually a very small minority.  Let’s look at the results.

When asked in two different ways about the likelihood of their doing business with a company that was managed according to Christian principles or embraced and promoted the Christian faith, roughly 55% of these consumers indicated they were indifferent!  In other words, the connections to Christianity did not affect their buying decisions in either direction.  Of course, while this is good news, it really does not tell us what we want to know.  Let’s dig a little further.

How about those that would be more likely to do business with a Christian company?  These responses to the question made up roughly 40% of the total responses!  Two out of every five consumers surveyed said that a company’s connection to the Christian faith would make them more likely to do business with them.  In fact, almost 25% said they would be a lot more likely to do so!

Fantastic News!

I see both of these results as fantastic news!  While I do not believe we are to market and advertise our Christian faith in our business (some may argue this), I am glad to know that the vast majority of those who see the connection are either indifferent or more likely to do business with us!

So what percentage of the responses is left over?

How many people are less likely to do business with a Christian company?

According to the Barna Group study, only 3% – less than one in thirty – of the respondents said they would be less likely to do business with a company that has overt connections to Christianity.  Only 3%…is that really a large enough population to cause concern?

Our Experience

While I have not conducted an official study like Barna, I have been outspoken about the Christian foundation for our business for almost fourteen years now.  I have never been confronted by anyone claiming offense at our beliefs.  I have had a couple of email complaints (literally 2 or 3) stating they would not purchase from us due to our Christian witness.  I am also certain that we have had customers walk away, but just not voice their opinion.  I don’t doubt that at all.

But really, how many do you think make up that group?  If your experience DOUBLED that of the Barna study, would 6% kill your business?  Do you really fear the size of that group more than you trust God at His Word?  He promises to meet our needs (Philippians 4:19).  He promises if we will seek Him first, he will add “these things” (Matthew 6:33).  God is faithful to make good on His promises (Deuteronomy 7:9).  Trust Him to do just that!

What are you really afraid of?

Isn’t your God bigger than that fear?

What should be your next step?

Photo by AntonioGuillem / iStock

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • That’s a pretty encouraging study. I live in the “Bible Belt” so seeing Christian businesses around is somewhat common. The only caveat is that it raises the bar for expectations. I’ve seen a lot of “Christian businesses” that didn’t operate anything like Christian businesses.

    • I agree that it was an encouraging study! It certainly disproves some common assumptions.

      As for the increased expectations, you are right on that as well. But really, whose expectations are we trying to meet? While I know some will expect more from a Christian business (I will be posting on some of this soon), and some of those expectations will be unreasonable, I still think we are to run the business this way.

      In fact, if I am truly seeking to “walk as Jesus did,” then my own standards will exceed those of most any customer. I cannot imagine any sane and/or reasonable customer setting expectations higher than what the Bible will lead me to set for myself. As for those with unreasonable expectations, I think they are too small of a minority to be concerned about.

      Just my two cents!

  • Rob-diamondcity

    What an encouraging study!!! We have been working on building a new Christian city for the last 5 1/2 years in Montana. The entire purpose of Diamond City is to bring church and state back together and to serve God. The one thing i have learned is that those who are offended are the people you don’t want anyway. I have 32 LLC members who are all Christians. We do everything in prayer. 

    We have been looking for a Christian organization to operate a family outreach center in Diamond City. If anyone has any leads, please e-mail me at rob-diamondcity@optimum.net. Please feel free to watch our video at http://www.diamondcityresort.com.

    • Wow, Rob! That sounds like a great project!

      I don’t know of anyone, but will keep my ears open. Keep me posted as you go!

  • Raymonde Neely

    This article for me is interesting. I recently had a discussion with a friend who owns a restaurant. We discussed the lack of business growth in the short time they have been open. Now there are various reasons why. His marketing isn’t that great, he could certainly train his staff better, and consistency over all. But I stated to him my belief is that he considers himself a Christian Business owner but he doesn’t truly operate his business with Christian principles. His understanding of this was that he has to walk a fine line between Christianity and the “business world” to ensure success. (yet he is truly unsuccessful, though he hasn’t hit the 3 year mark)  Of course I disagreed with him.  Yet I thought his thought processes, were not only interesting, but someone of concern. I truly believe that if we are going to be Christian business owners that our principles must always fall in line with our faith.  Ambiguity, straddling the fence, inconsistencies in our practices, negates our witness (whether verbal or being an example) and it must in someway hinder our business growth…doesn’t it?

  • Raymonde, in short, you are right and your friend is wrong. Unfortunately, his rationale is common. It is very UNcommon to think like you (and I) think.

    My first recommendation is to attempt to show him how he needs excellence in his business. Right now, it sounds like he needs to improve his processes in several areas. Once he accepts that, you can move on to show him how excellence in business and Scripture agree with each other. He seems to think Scripture will handcuff him, when in fact it will help him improve.

    You can find the Scripture on your own or you can find a book that helps with this. I can recommend two. First, and more recent, is Dave Anderson’s book called How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK. This book has a lot of Scripture to back up the author’s recommendations.

    The second book is a classic and is titled almost the same. It is by Larry Burkett and is called Business By The Book. This is one of the key books in my initial journey toward running a Christian business.

    Let me know if I can help!

  • C Humphreys

    A great article Chris. A group of friends from my church in London started a social enterprise last year. On the back of our business cards we put Matthew 7:12 (Do under to others etc) but  we put the version from The Message which reads: Ask yourself what you want peoople to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.

    Even though we would never thrust our faith down people’s throats, having this on our business cards has given us frequent opening to talk openly about our faith (without being heavy). When we ask who people thought wrote this text some thought it was a US president, Ophra W, and even one person from local governement (a non Christian ) guessed right and said Jesus. We haven’t found a single person who is against what we stand for and most of the time we have being met with respect and interest.
    I’m now stepping out and have started up a Christian Careers Coaching consultancy (my main area of training http://want2geton.co.uk ) and am hoping to experience the same levels of interest!

    But as scripture says, for some the name of Jesus will be the fragrance of life whilst for others it will be for them the smell of death, and there’s no knowing how people will always react, but most of the time it’s been good for us!

    • I love the business card idea! Very cool!

      I am praying that your business is successful in impacting others for eternity! Keep up the good work.

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  • Pam

    Awesome article. Great way to bring some perspective and thank you for those stats! Many – me included – tend to let what we see in the news shape our perceived reality. Because something seems prominent in the news we can tend to think that’s the status quo.

    Personally, while I don’t flaunt it right in people’s faces, (e.g. I don’t turn every encounter into evangelism) I hope that Jesus shines through my conduct. I don’t, however, shy away from letting people know that I am a follower of Jesus and that I run my business according to Biblical principles if there is an opening in the course of a normal conversation.

    Also, on my about page on my website I state that clearly because I am a personal brand and so people may as well know that is the biggest part of what they will be getting. 🙂

    I look at it this way. If someone doesn’t want to work with me because I am a Christian then I just don’t worry about it. God’s got me. I am not ashamed of the Gospel and I won’t deny my faith. I pray for them and bless them and hope that somehow a seed was planted that another laborer may end up watering and feeding.