For too long, church members have believed that the call to ministry is primarily for pastors and evangelists. However, the Great Commission—given by Jesus, who was in the business of carpentry, to His disciples, who were in the business of fishing—is not limited to those who minister in churches and from pulpits. It is for all who are part of the “priesthood of all believers.” Seminary-trained entrepreneur Jeff Tatarchuk, founder and owner of Life Rx Fitness, has discovered that for him, the marketplace is his ministry and his business is his pulpit.
Tatarchuk has been entrepreneurial since childhood. “I always wanted to create things,” he said. “I would mix my mom’s spices into new blends and sell them, and in middle school, I started a t-shirt business.”
However, his potential was almost cut tragically short. Locked in a dark cloud of prescription drugs and depression, Tatarchuk attempted suicide in junior high after declaring himself an atheist.
It wasn’t until he was in a group home in Tennessee that he experienced the power of Jesus. When a friend challenged him to read the Bible, the stories he read came to life for the first time. The image of Jesus choosing nails for him was a self-described turning point, and he surrendered to Jesus.
“I experienced the relief of knowing that Jesus took all my junk on the cross,” he said. “I knew there were a lot more people out there who needed to experience this, and I wanted to share that hope.”
After graduating from college with a theology degree, Tatarchuk became a full-time evangelist. However, before moving to Michigan to study at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, Tatarchuk connected with a church that was running a community thrift store. He was fascinated by the opportunity that the store gave pastors and volunteers to converse with unbelievers about the gospel.
“They’d found something that elevated the community and transcended the four walls of the church,” he said. “That’s what I wanted.”
Ever the entrepreneurial evangelist, Tatarchuk opened a similar thrift store in Berrien Springs, Michigan, before the Seminary school year began. The endeavor was profitable and allowed him to reach community members. However, one year after opening the store, his business partner had a brain aneurysm and the business seemed doomed.
“I felt like I had failed,” Tatarchuk said. “I had also gained a lot of weight and needed to do something to get healthy. That’s when a friend introduced me to the burpee.”
The burpee, a full-body aerobic move, launched Tatarchuk into what would become his most successful business venture to date. Needing to finish out his lease, Tatarchuk turned the thrift store into a Crossfit gym, hoping to break even financially. He broke even on opening day. Since its start in 2013, the gym has expanded from a Crossfit facility to an all-inclusive fitness center, Life Rx Fitness.
“We’ve used the space to do community breakfasts, health expos and vespers,” he said. “The gym has created a neutral environment for people to be open and share at any time.”
Tatarchuk also uses the language of the gym to introduce faith to those who would never attend a traditional evangelistic meeting.
“We package our vespers in the gym’s language. In Crossfit, the goal is to progress and get to the level of the prescribed workout. When you successfully complete it, you get ‘Rx’ next to your name. So we started FaithRx, a vespers program, to teach people how to live life as it’s meant to be.”
In addition, the Seminary has partnered with Tatarchuk to host creative evangelistic meetings. Over fifty people attended the meetings in the gym and 16 were baptized, all of which are still active in church.
One of the most important pieces of advice Tatarchuk can give to business people who are passionate about God is to connect with other believing businesspeople.
“Be a part of a network,” he challenges other entrepreneurs. “Find somebody that you enjoy and hold each other accountable to do something for God through your business.”
Secondly, he implores business people to be grounded in scripture.
“Having a theological foundation is important,” he said. “There are so many complex ideas out there that it’s hard to navigate a conversation with people who think differently than you. However you can get it, whether through Bible college, Seminary or another avenue, do it if you can. Because nobody out there should hear the gospel twice until everyone has heard it once.”
The Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary’s new MA Religion Interdisciplinary Studies Online degree can help any layperson develop a stronger theological foundation through a cohort-based, online experience. Visit andrews.edu/sem/findyourcalling to start equipping yourself for a deeper ministry today.