by Mike Baer
God graciously invaded my life in early 1974. Actually He had been battering at the gate of my self-centered fortress for some time prior but it was in February of that year that, like Lydia, the Lord opened my heart and I believed. My conversion was dramatic. Not emotional. No fireworks. Yet one man knelt down to meet Christ and another, entirely new person got up to live for Him.
Within a week I had connected with 3 other new believers on the campus of the University of Tennessee. We all faced a common dilemma. What do Christians do on Friday night? We were expert in what pagans do. But what about the followers of Jesus? Not knowing any better we decided to get together to read the Bible, to pray together and to play cards. That first evening there were 4 of us. The next week there were 8. Then 16 and so on until soon over 150 students and young people began to gather to study the Word, to pray, and eventually to exercise baptism, the Lord’s Supper and Church Discipline. Without our knowing it God had used us to plant a New Testament church. I, along with a couple of others became the “elders” and “pastors” of this congregation and from that point I spent the next 15 years in a pastoral role for several different churches around the U.S. I jokingly refer to myself as the “accidental church planter” because only God could have engineered such a path.
I went on to study at a variety of institutions – missionary training schools, Bible colleges, non-Christian universities – and earned a BA and eventually gained a Th.M. from one of the finest seminaries in the world. God was gracious and my ministry was effective and blessed. Two churches were planted and two others equipped to serve Christ in their community and in global missions. It was a good season and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
However, over the course of the 15 years that I was in the formal pastorate the Lord began to create in my heart a thirst to be more effective in reaching unbelievers and encouraging believers who were distant from the organized church. I began to sense that my “pastoral job” was actually more of a barrier to this desire rather than a bridge. Let me quickly say that this was for me and not for all those engaged in pastoral work.
Over time, the Holy Spirit made it clear that He wanted me to leave the formal pastorate and migrate into the business world. This is where I could engage the lost and the least churched on their turf, in their domain. Fast forward. For the next 10 years I was blessed to be highly successful in business and to enjoy the granting of my heart’s desires. I was able to demonstrate and communicate the Gospel to many who would never darken the door of a church, even the most seeker friendly church. Believers who were disenfranchised from organized church began to find encouragement, shepherding and equipping in the context of the workplace. Needless to say, I was ecstatic.
My quest, though, was not ended. There began to emerge in my mind a burning question: how do these two seemingly separate parts of my life fit together? Ministry and Business. 15 years in one; 10 years in the other. Were they two different books? Two entirely distinct chapters?
While I prayed about and pondered this, the Lord arranged for me to travel to Kyrgyzstan. This was the early 1990’s. The Soviet Union had collapsed and Kyrgyzstan was among the many Muslim republics to break away and form independent countries. I was invited to work with the State Medical Institute to help their students learn how to establish fee-for-service medical practices in place of the collapsed centralized Soviet system. It was in Kyrgyzstan that I began to discover God’s “seamless integration of business as mission.” It was there as an open follower of Jesus and a real business person that the “corridors of power and influence” opened both to me and to the Gospel.
For the last 25 years it has been my privilege to operate in the space now known as BAM – business as mission. We have launched over 1300 micro-businesses (MEDs) in 25 countries. We have helped acquire or launch several “small to midsized” enterprises (SMEs) and consulted with others. All of this is with a focus to see Jesus Christ demonstrated, communicated, and embraced in and through business around the world. This is my passion. This is my calling. This is my joy.
We have now begun to focus on equipping the next generation of young leaders in the BAM movement. Third Path Initiative, is an international consortium of universities, pastors, BAM practitioners and leaders committed to multiplying BAM resources and accelerating the BAM movement.
In 2006 my first book was published. Business as Mission: The Power of Business in the Kingdom of God. It has been very well received and I have received many notes of thanks and encouraging testimonies about how the concepts in it have helped business people find their meaningful place in God’s work in the world–especially among the unreached who live in very hard to get to places. This new book 2IC: Business as Mission for the Rest of Us takes up where Business as Mission leaves off. Specifically, this book is built on 5 bedrock principles:
1. Jesus Christ is Lord now of every sphere of life.
2. There is no Biblical distinction whatsoever between the “sacred” and “secular” callings in life.
3. All true followers of Jesus need to get out of the 4 walls of the church building and impact the world for Christ where He has sovereignly placed us.
4. Disciples of Christ need to be totally immersed and engaged in our non-Christian society.
5. Business is just one of many spheres in which the previous 4 things can occur.
So, as you read the book, I pray that God will encourage you and help you discover that for a business person who loves Jesus there is a special place in the Kingdom and a special way in which you can impact it.
Sola Dei Gloria!
2IC Business as Mission for the Rest of Us – Many business owners are aligning their companies with the cause of Christ around the world. But what about those of us who aren’t owners or entrepreneurs? 2IC answers this question in a powerful and practical way. Based on the lives of Joseph and Daniel, Mike Baer shows that you can be “second in command” (or 2IC) and be used of God to make meaningful kingdom impact. Buy on Amazon in Kindle or Paperback versions
Mike Baer was one of the early leaders in the modern Business as Mission movement. He started his career as a pastor and church planter. After 15 years in the pastorate Mike was led into business where he gradually began to discover the potential for believers in business to bless their communities, evangelize the lost and spread the Kingdom of God, especially among the unreached. Today, Mike is the Chief People Officer of EmployBridge, a $3.2 billion employment company based in the US. He has written 4 books on BAM: Business as Mission, Kingdom Worker, Gospel Entrepreneur, and 2IC. Mike is a regular contributor to the Third Path Blog. Today Mike and his wife reside in the mountains of North Carolina where they enjoy their 5 grandchildren.