MT 21 Gospel Driven Business: The Escape Game

Company co-founder James Murrell leads a staff meeting with the employees of The Escape Game Nashville. (Mika Matin)

Ministry Today commends a different group of kingdom-minded people or organizations each year in our MT21 issue. In 2014, when we launched MT21, we honored churches and ministries that were influencing the 21st-century church.

In 2015, we highlighted 21 congregations that were "culturally diverse on purpose." This year, however, we're taking a different approach and naming 21 businesses whose leaders are a witness for Christ in some way through their professional platforms. From cupcake makers to insurance agency owners to roofers, we have covered a wide range of businesses in this year's MT21 feature.

Today, we are highlighting The Escape Game

James Murrell takes a threefold approach to exalting God through the workplace. In his role as co-founder and operations director of The Escape Game, he focuses on honoring God through honoring his employees, his customers and his community.

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The Escape Game was originally devised by Mark Flint, who played an escape room game while traveling abroad with his family. In these games, players attempt to problem-solve their way out of a locked room within a specific timespan. Flint partnered with brothers Jonathan and James Murrell to launch their own company tied to the concept.

The first Escape Game opened in Nashville, Tennessee, in April 2014. Since then, the company has opened additional locations in Nashville; Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; and Austin, Texas.

James Murrell says his official job responsibilities involve monitoring branding, building a healthy work culture and working with all the different teams to make sure the stores meet the company values. But his Christian faith inspires him to take on a few additional responsibilities. He wouldn't call the Escape Game a "Christian company"—"People are Christians, not businesses," he says—but his faith does inspire the work culture he creates.

"I think one of the most important things for me is to create impactful, fulfilling jobs for people," Murrell says. "Besides God and family, I think vocation is one of the most important things to people. I want to create a job that gives them purpose and provides for their families, and to create an atmosphere that is healthy for them. To be able to do that for them is how I see my work impacting the kingdom."

Beyond creating a positive environment, Murrell says he strives to be a positive force in his company. After all, motivated employees create a successful company.

"If you're in the word and growing as a Christian, you can impact them on a day-to-day basis—more than just a tract could—through the words you're saying," Murrell says.

"That's the most apparent way to honor people in this work environment," he added. "The way I try to do it is just to be very encouraging with people. I noticed that the higher my position, the more my words can influence people's lives. I try to speak life into their lives. I try to actually impact them with words of encouragement and try to actually help them have a purposeful vocation that I think is God-ordained in a lot of ways."

Another value Murrell integrates into The Escape Game is excellence. He believes God values excellence and that believers have an obligation to bring that spirit of excellence into the workplace.

"I think some people are excellent because it brings in money," Murrell says. "But excellence, for us, is one of our values. Even if it didn't bring in money, we think that's an important part of our organization. We strive toward being one of the most excellent businesses in the world, from our games to our lobbies to how we treat our customers."

Giving customers nothing less than excellence is one way to show them service and Christian love. That service and love can be similarly witnessed—on a much broader scale—through the company's donations to social causes and missionaries. The Escape Game donates to the Real Life Foundation and Ten Days Missions, and the company hopes to expand its giving in the years to come. The Real Life Foundation is a Christian nonprofit organization that provides education to underprivileged Filipinos. Ten Days Missions is the short-term international missionary ministry of Every Nation, where James' father, Steve Murrell, is president. Ultimately, Murrell hopes these values will catapult The Escape Game to becoming the leader in its niche industry.

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