Want to Change the World? Make Disciples

by Joyce Ahn

In response to millennials being labelled noncommittal, cynical, entitled, slacktivists, Grant Skeldon started Initiative Network in order to shift the culture of Dallas by training millennials to be Christ-loving, city-changing, church-investing, disciple-making local missionaries. Initiative has impacted thousands of young leaders from over 540 different churches across the greater Dallas region.

Grant spoke at the 2017 BAM Conference in Dallas. Here are some key insights he shared about the importance of discipleship. This is a summary of Grant’s talk. 

The Missing Key: DISCIPLESHIP!

Jesus himself focused a majority of his three years in ministry closely investing in the lives of the twelve disciples. If my friend was on his deathbed, I would listen closely for what he asked me to do. The same is true for when I look at Jesus’ life. Some of his parting words to us before ascending to heaven were to GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES! Yet as I travel and speak, when I ask, “How many of you are getting discipled?” or “How many of you are discipling?” many Christians I meet are not making disciples. However, this can change. As more and more of the older generation is discipling the young generations, amazing things are happening!

Bridging the Generational Gap

I encourage all seasoned leaders to invest in the lives of young people. There are many millennials making choices you might not understand or agree with. Yet what millennials are missing is relationships with godly, wise leaders who can help them build their character and live out all that they are meant to be. You might be making a difference as you serve in your ministry, but whose life are you deeply investing in? Without committed discipling relationships, it’s very hard for you to influence the next generation. Read more

Team BAM: Legacy & Looking Ahead

By Joyce Ahn

The following is a summary of a lecture given by Mats Tunehag at the BAM Conference 2017 in Dallas, TX. Mats is a widely-known scholar focused on BAM and developing research and materials for BAMers globally.

BAM is not a new concept. In fact, we stand upon a rich legacy of professionals who sought to glorify God through their business.  We see entrepreneurs in the scripture and throughout history. We stand at a crossroads as we look at how the BAM movement has progressed, and where things are headed.

Here are some trends I have observed in recent years:

Faith and business are more integrated than ever before. We see more and more believers who understand the importance of integrating our faith into how we run our businesses all throughout the week. It’s becoming more natural for people to say “Of course God has called me to business” and seek ways to invite him into their values and company culture. It’s exciting to see the growing numbers of BAM companies in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, and an increasing number of BAM materials in dozens of languages. Read more

Dream Big and Move Forward! 6 Tips for Impact from a Modern Abolitionist

by Joyce Ahn

David Batstone is a human rights activist and co-founder of Not For Sale, an organization that provides human trafficking survivors and at-risk individuals with tools for long-term self-sufficiency through work-readiness skills and job placements. David is also the cofounder of REBBL, a health-drink company, and senior managing partner of ‘Just Business,’ an international investment group that incubates social enterprises.  

In his final keynote speech at the BAM Conference 2017, David shared 6 tips for business people who want to make a major impact on society:

  1. Fearlessly Pursue Your Passion

Don’t get stuck asking,“What’s the next step?” or “What does God want me to do?” Instead, start taking steps based off of what you know and the opportunities right in front of you. Reflect on the gifts and calling that God has given you. What’s the burning passion in your heart? Rather than getting stuck pursuing someone else’s dream for your life, take ownership of your vision and do something about it!

  1. Look Back Before You Look Forward

You might find this surprising, but we often can see God’s path for us most clearly not when we look forward, but as we look behind us. As you look at your past, you will start to see how all the seemingly unconnected parts fit together and how even your mistakes played a role in shaping the bigger picture. Read more

Putting the Enterprise in Social Enterprise

by Rudy Carrasco

Landscaping. Coffee shops. Handyman services. Training kitchens. Snow removal. Housing for single mothers.

Across the United States, church and business leaders are responding to needs in their communities through social enterprise. Social enterprise addresses a basic unmet need or solve a social problem through a market-driven approach. Many social enterprises mix earned revenue with cash donations to cover their costs—but a growing number of organizations seek to operate profitable business as they pursue shalom.

Shalom—the just conditions in which “nothing is missing, nothing is broken”—is the vision of Grand Rapids, Mich. based Building Bridges Professional Services. Building Bridges started in 2007 to employ young adults facing barriers to employment. They provide landscaping, lawn care, property maintenance, snow removal, and more. Their vision of shalom includes the flourishing of young people who have aged out of the foster care system and have few people or resources to lean on as a safety net.

In 2017, Building Bridges began the process of converting from a nonprofit to an L3C for-profit structure. “To do social enterprise well,” says Nate Beene, CEO of Building Bridges, “you have to closely integrate your social purpose and financial health.”

With support from Partners Worldwide volunteers, Nate and his team began strengthening the business-side of their operations four years ago. “Our budget wasn’t best suited for our industry,” Beene says. “We worked on account codes, breaking down expenses, and allocating costs like vendor repairs and vehicle use.”

In 2017, Building Bridges’ revenue was $700,000, and they project $1 million in revenue this year. From a modest start— Beene was the first Building Bridges employee ten years ago —the organization employs 25 people today. The employee pool is a mix of entry-level team members as well as operations staff who can support the team members and run the business.

“When we started, we had more homeless youth than we do now,” Beene says, “but we learned that the ideal employee is a young person looking for a second chance. We need the team member to be at a point where they can show up every day and let us pour into them.”

2,000 miles away from Building Bridges, in Long Beach, California, another social enterprise is creating opportunities for young people while getting to break-even profit.

5000 Pies, inspired by the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in the Gospel of Matthew, offers delicious deep-dish pizza, jaguar fries, salads, sandwiches, and more. Launched as an LLC by Fountain of Life Church, the organization currently employs 17 people with 80 percent of its revenue earned through sales at 5000 Pies.

“When we first started our church, we knew we needed some kind of economic element to provide jobs and job training in the area,” said Becky Teter, a 5000 Pies founder, to the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

The social enterprise model of 5000 Pies includes paid time off for employees to participate in life skills training and discipleship programs. On the business side, the managers are looking to increase sales through local marketing and expanding their baked sweets offerings.

Mike Martinez, head chef at 5000 Pies, embodies the shalom that the Fountain of Life Church team envisioned from the start. In his teens and twenties, he was involved in a gang and drug culture, with related prison stints. As he rebuilt his life, he joined Fountain of Life and dreamed with leaders about an enterprise that could help others like him stay out of trouble. Fast forward and Martinez, as the head chef at 5000 pies, encourages both employees and customers while creating demand with the tasty 5000 Pies menu.

Building Bridges Professional Services and 5000 Pies are just two of many social enterprises building financially-sustainable businesses that make a social impact. Across the country, Partners Worldwide encounters and connects with hundreds of organizations and churches that are living out their mission in a sustainable way and seeing lives transformed. Shalom through business is more than an aspiration – Building Bridges, 5000 Pies, and others are showing it can be done in high unemployment communities throughout the United States.

Rudy Carrasco is the U.S. Regional Facilitator for Partners Worldwide. Prior to serving with Partners Worldwide, Rudy worked for 19 years in an urban ministry in Pasadena, CA, where he realized the need to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in high unemployment communities.

Hyma Brings Shalom

by Ellie Hutchison

Her hand moves rhythmically, hovering in constant motion above the red earth. She draws in rice flour. A trail of white left in her wake, forming geometric swirls, arches, circles, and loops. Her kolam is elaborate, yet simple. Beautiful, but precise.

Each morning, millions of women in India rise and draw kolams on the ground outside their home. Yet their primary purpose is not decoration. Historically, they have been a sign of invitation and welcome. Made of rice flour, they are an offering to ants and other small organisms so they don’t have to walk too far for a meal.

In this way, a kolam embodies our call to care for the vulnerable among us. It is a humble effort to create a welcoming community of harmonious co-existence.

Like most people in Tirunelveli, a city in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, kolams were a familiar presence in Hyma’s childhood. They marked her path from home to school and back again. Her eyes would bounce from one to the next as she walked, careful not to smear the intricate designs with her footsteps. Read more