Perhaps you’ve heard talk about the “Seven Mountains”, or the “Seven Mountain Mandate, or “Seven Mountain Prophecy”. You may be wondering what this is all about. The idea is really quite simple: in our culture, there are Seven Mountains (think of them as “spheres” or simply “areas”) of influence, and the modern church is being called to build influence on each of those mountains.
Where did this teaching come from? Is it biblical?
If you’re looking for it in the Bible, you won’t find the “Seven Mountains”. So in that sense, it is not in the Bible.
However, Jesus did instruct us to be “salt” and “light”, and to go into all the world, and the New Testament is replete with admonitions that we are to influence the culture. And not, I might add, to be influenced by the culture.
In that sense, the “Seven Mountains teaching” is quite biblical indeed.
The first recorded reference to the Seven Mountains that I can find originates with Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade. In 1975, Bright was having lunch in Colorado with Loren Cunningham (who founded Youth with a Mission).
Both men had been given a dream by God, containing a message to give to the other. That message was about Seven Mountains of influence. Francis Schaeffer received a similar message from the Lord at about the same time. All three believed that in order for the church to impact the world for Jesus Christ, it would be necessary for us to influence the Seven Mountains of society.
This is a message of encouragement for those who don’t feel they are called to “full-time ministry”. Even that term-“full-time ministry”-is inaccurate, as it is clear from Scripture that every believer is a full-time minister, a royal priest in God’s Kingdom.
When we say “full-time ministry” what we mean is vocational ministry. Paid staff positions at churches, for example.
In 2009, I reduced my working hours to a part-time basis, and took the year to go to ministry school. I was so naïve, I did not realize at the time that my wife and I had consecrated our lives to the Lord for a year (nine months of class, followed by a three month trip around the US visiting family, revival hotspots like IHOP in Bethel, and ministering to people along the way).
That kind of consecration brings transformation.
When I started ministry school, I felt certain that God was leading me to shut down my business and become a pastor. But as I progressed through the school year, and especially after hearing the message of the Seven Mountains, I felt God was speaking to me, saying: “Ray, I have enough pastors in pulpits. What I need is ministers in the marketplace.”
I did not know what that looked like. Was I supposed to put the fish symbol on the door to my office? Conduct a men’s group Bible study each week? Increase the amount of my ties from the business? Join a Christian business men’s group?
Sometimes it takes me a while to see the obvious. My wife and I had just spent nine months in intensive training where we learned how to live “naturally supernatural”. In other words, we had learned that God was not a category of activity in our lives, but rather he is the source and the central fabric of everything we do. If we face a problem in our family, our business, our health, or anywhere else, the first thing we do is seek the supernatural counsel of our Father in Heaven.
As I came back to the business world, I realized that it was impossible for me to deal with the questions of clients, the needs of my students, and the challenges they faced, without God. Seeking the supernatural in every area of my life was just… well… natural.
For me, and the people who seem to be attracted to what we’re doing, this is the only way. I don’t feel that we are called to “covert ministry”, where we simply try to be good people and hope someone will notice. The idea behind this sort of ministry seems to be, “let’s not offend anyone and maybe they’ll ask us why we’re so cool. Then we can tell them about Jesus.”
I can’t help but think of what Jesus said in the gospel of Matthew: “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”
It’s clear to me: if my answer to making big decisions in business is to seek the wisdom of God first, I cannot advise my consulting clients to do anything different.
I should mention at this point, not all of my clients are Christians. Some of them, I’m sure, find my beliefs quite amusing. But they continue to seek my business counsel. And while I don’t make a secret of what I believe, who I follow, or where I get wisdom, I don’t require clients to believe the same things I do.
This approach to business has given me a unique position of influence with many people. I find the combination of loving people, not judging them, and sharing with them the good news that God is for them, attracts even nonbelievers to your side. We shouldn’t be surprised; it worked that way for Jesus. He didn’t hang out with churchy people. He hung out with the people the churchy people held in contempt. Jesus loved people into the Kingdom.
It’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance.
Which brings me back, albeit somewhat circuitously, to the Seven Mountains. Whichever “mountain” you are called to, or find yourself on currently, that’s a place where you can bring the Kingdom of God. You can be a light on a hill.
You don’t have to become a pastor, or join a religious order, or be ordained. You have already been ordained by God himself as a royal priest, and you have been given the authority to administer the Kingdom wherever you go.
And just what is this Kingdom we are administering? When Jesus walked the face of the earth as a human being, wherever he went he healed the sick, released people from demonic oppression, and then he told them, “The Kingdom of God has come near you today.” Elsewhere in Scripture, we are told that the Kingdom consists of righteousness, peace, and the joy in the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul made tents. Peter was a fisherman, as were James and John. Matthew was a tax collector. Cornelius worked in government. Each was a key influential leader in the church, yet none were vocationally in the “full-time ministry”. They all did their Kingdom work in the Seven Mountains.
It seems like a good idea for you and I to do the same.