How Business as Mission Can Help End Poverty for Good

by Doug Seebeck

The Business as Mission movement has made remarkable advances over the past 20 years. It is a powerful movement that affirms God’s call to business and the central role of business in missions and insists that business is critical to the redemptive work of God in the world and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

While there is much to celebrate, now is the time for a rallying cry for what can and must be done in the 20 years ahead of us. Indeed, the health of our planet, the flourishing of our neighbors, and the integrity of the Gospel itself depend upon our concerted focus and action. And that focus is the end of extreme global poverty as we know it today. To this end, we need the Business as Mission movement to serve those at the bottom of the pyramid who are scraping by on less than $2 per day.

Our vision at Partners Worldwide is to see the end of poverty so that all may have life, and have it abundantly. This is a grand, audacious goal we know we can’t accomplish alone. And yet, for the first time in human history, the number of our fellow human beings who face extreme poverty has fallen to under 10 percent. The latest figures from World Bank suggest the extreme poverty rate fell to 8.6 percent last year—a rapid decrease from 36 percent in 1990. It is truly amazing!  Read more

3 Reasons to Scale Your Business to Reach the Unreached

by Mike Baer

In all entrepreneurial circles, the hot topic is “How to scale the business.” How do we take our company from me (and possibly a few others) to many? How do we add more employees? Customers? Lines of business? Locations? Profits?

Scaling in General

“Scale or Die” is the cry that comes from many startups and from virtually all investors. Growth is an evidence of life and health. Healthy companies grow. But it’s not easy, especially in a business as mission endeavor.

Where will you find the funding to expand? Bootstrapping or “cash-flowing” expansion is extremely difficult and tediously slow.

What about managers sufficiently skilled and knowledgeable to lead a larger business who also share your faith and focus? Where will you find them? How will you pay them? Who will move to your location? Do you use locals? Expats?

And, most importantly, what about your own experience or lack thereof? If you’ve never done it before, it’s daunting and difficult to say the least! The overwhelming majority of startups fail to scale.  Read more

Solving Global Issues with Innovative BAM Solutions

by Jo Plummer & Mats Tunehag

This post is the third in a series of three that share the BAM Global Big Hairy Audacious Goals – our ‘BHAGs’ for the global business as mission movement. BAM Global is one of the founding partners of this website and aims to be a catalyst for connection and communication across the BAM community. These goals are not ones we expect to accomplish by ourselves, instead they drive our mission to invigorate the BAM movement – to strengthen and enrich this community so that the hundreds and thousands of companies, networks, agencies, churches, institutions, etc. in the movement see these BHAGs realised together.

The BHAG: Solve global issues with innovative BAM solutions

Business as mission is about serving God and people, seeking holistic transformation through business. We know that businesses are strong transformational agents and they can bring solutions to many human problems and needs.

The biggest lift out of poverty in the history of mankind has taken place in our generation. This has happened not through aid but trade – through businesses – especially small and medium sized companies. Financial wealth has been created through business, but so has physical wealth (health, medicines, etc.), cultural wealth (books, theatres, museums, etc.), and many other kids of wealth. Wealth creation through business and job creation has been and continues to be a key driver for welcome progress in society.  Read more

Reaching a Tipping Point for Macro Impact Through BAM Businesses

by Jo Plummer & Mats Tunehag

This post is the second in a series of three that share the BAM Global Big Hairy Audacious Goals – our ‘BHAGs’ for the global business as mission movement. BAM Global is one of the founding partners of this website and aims to be a catalyst for connection and communication across the BAM community. These goals are not ones we expect to accomplish by ourselves, instead they drive our mission to invigorate the BAM movement – to strengthen and enrich this community so that the hundreds and thousands of companies, networks, agencies, churches, institutions, etc. in the movement see these BHAGs realised together.

The BHAG: Reach a tipping point for macro impact through BAM businesses

The global BAM movement has grown rapidly in the last 20-plus years. There are now thousands of BAM businesses, and countless BAM-related initiatives in businesses, churches, missions and academia. As a growing number of business people follow Jesus in the marketplace and shape their businesses for God’s glory and the common good, they will have a positive impact on the financial, social, environmental and spiritual well-being of people and societies.

Through the BAM Think Tank processes we have documented significant holistic transformation taking place through companies, affecting many stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, neighbours, officials, etc. – and on many levels. The BAM ecosystem is now large, varied and global, and has the hallmarks of a true movement. This is a positive growth and a strength.  Read more

Transforming Views of Business in the Church Worldwide

by Jo Plummer & Mats Tunehag

This post is the first in a series of three that share the BAM Global Big Hairy Audacious Goals – our ‘BHAGs’ for the global business as mission movement. BAM Global is one of the founding partners of this website and aims to be a catalyst for connection and communication across the BAM community. These goals are not ones we expect to accomplish by ourselves, instead they drive our mission to invigorate the BAM movement – to strengthen and enrich this community so that the hundreds and thousands of companies, networks, agencies, churches, institutions, etc. in the movement see these BHAGs realised together.

The BHAG: Transform views on business in the church worldwide

Business as mission is not simply a method or strategy; it encompasses a worldview and business praxis based on biblical principles and the church’s teaching. The sacred-secular divide is still permeating the church. What is considered ‘sacred’ (worship, faith, church activities, etc.) is often judged to be more valuable that the ‘secular’ (work, business, material goods, etc.) The clergy (pastor, missionary, etc.) are considered to have a higher calling than the laity (teacher, business professional, lawyer, etc.). This is still a dominating paradigm among many Christians around the globe.

As a consequence, business people and professionals in the church do not fully understand that their gifts, skills and experience are vital to God’s kingdom work on earth. Many feel that the most ‘spiritual’ thing they can do is to give financially to those doing the ‘real ministry’, and, if they really want to serve God, they should leave their company behind and become a missionary or pastor. While generosity and a true calling to church leadership is to be commended, this narrow view of the value of business ultimately hinders the mission of the church.  Read more

Business as Mission: The Global Movement Today

While we are on the topic this month of ‘looking back in order to move forward’, we repost this interview with Mats Tunehag from 2015 outlining some of the developments Mats had seen in the BAM movement up until that point.

Mats Tunehag has been speaking, writing and convening on business as mission for nearly 20 years. When he visited The BAM Review office recently*, we asked him a few questions about the business as mission movement.

Mats, what have you seen changing in business as mission in the last 15-20 years?

We are seeing a reawakening of what it means to be a Christian in business in our day and age. There has been remarkable growth of people getting engaged in doing business for God and the common good. If we take a 15 year time span, there are things we have today that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Now, we have a greater common understanding globally of this idea that we call ‘business as mission’. There are significant common denominators in our understanding, even though terminology may vary from group to group.

15 years ago when you mentioned business as mission, there were many questions about ‘What is that?’, ‘Is this something we want to get involved in?’. Today you can travel to almost any country and bump into people who have heard of, or are talking about, or practicing, business as mission. That is one of the major changes globally. Read more

Reasons to Celebrate! Growth of BAM Over the Last 20 Years

by Jo Plummer

This year marks around 20 years since the term ‘Business as Mission’ was first used and discussed amongst a growing group of like-minded people around the world. At the very end of the 1990s and the early 2000s, there was a burst of activity around BAM: Consultations, Conferences, Books, Articles, the first Websites etc. – and this kick-started greater momentum in the BAM movement, which has been growing to this day.

We are exploring the theme ‘where we’ve got to and where we still need to go’ on The BAM Review blog in the coming months. You can read the introduction post ‘10 Pressing Issues to Address in BAM in the Next 20 Years’ for more about the topics we’ll be covering during this series.

Before we dive into the challenges ahead, we asked some of the same BAM Leaders to share their view on what progress we can celebrate in the BAM movement over the last 20 years or so. What are some wins, or significant growth areas that we should note and be thankful for?

Reasons to Celebrate: BAM Leaders Reflect

The movement has gained traction. People now understand the legitimacy and role of BAM in particular and the calling of business in general for the Great Commission. New organizations have been founded to address the gaps in the BAM movement such as mentoring, funding, events for promoting and networking, etc. More established older organizations have begun embracing BAM ministry by starting a division, department or group focused on BAM. The biggest win for me is the wider acceptance of BAM as a way to impact the world for Christ by the global Church (with a capital C). We still have a ways to go, but the progress has been significant. God has used the BAM movement to move the needle. – Joseph Vijayam, BAM Practitioner & Lausanne Catalyst  Read more

10 Pressing Issues to Address in BAM in the Next 20 Years

by Jo Plummer

This year marks around 20 years since the term ‘Business as Mission’ was first used and discussed amongst a growing group of like-minded people around the world. Of course, there were pioneer BAM models before that time, not to mention the fact that business and mission have been integrated in many different ways since Paul the Apostle made tents! However, for this modern iteration, the cohesion and an international conversation around this concept really started around 20 years ago.

I like to think of this pioneer generation and what has followed as ‘BAM 1.0’. It is amazing to reflect on all God has done in our global community in the past couple of decades! Now, as we look forward to the future, we want to explore the theme of ‘BAM 2.0’ for a new series of posts on The BAM Review blog. In the coming months, we’ll discover where we’ve got to and the issues we still face for the future.

To prepare for this series, we asked 20 leaders who have been engaged in business as mission for between 10 and 35 years to tell us what they believe are the most pressing issues we must address if the BAM movement is to be even more fruitful for the next 20 years… and beyond! While this isn’t a scientific survey across the entire BAM community, it does represent wisdom from a collection of leaders who have served long in our movement.

Here are the 10 overarching issues that were identified by these leaders, in no particular order:  Read more

When Things Go Wrong: 9 BAMers Share Mistakes & Misadventures

We asked some (otherwise very successful) BAM Practitioners that we know to share some of the errors, disasters and unfortunate events that they have experienced in their business as mission journeys. Here nine BAMers share eleven stories about their mistakes and misadventures:

They Didn’t Come…

In our first years we did not have enough focus on sales and revenue, it was more of a “build it and they will come” mindset. It almost killed us. Then the solution was to hire a sales guy in the US, but the problem was twofold; first I should never have tried to outsource sales so early as CEO and second I hired a great guy but one that had bigger company experience and not the early entrepreneurial sales experience needed at our stage. This was a second failure on the sales side that almost killed us. I have come to fully understand the saying “no margin, no mission” and put sales as a key priority for myself until we got fully into orbit and could hand it off to the right person with right experience for our company stage, deal size and industry. MC

Too Many Cabinets

There’s two ways you can kill a startup: too little business and too much business. A couple of years ago, our 5 month old custom cabinet business was featured on our local news station. In our exuberance, we signed up too many customers with an unrealistic view of how quickly we could complete jobs. In less than a month, we had ended up with upset customers and significant cash flow problems as we made mistakes in our rush to complete jobs whilst also missing deadlines. In this case, we were able to recover our financial footings through a few key factors: Our product ultimately was a good fit with customer demand, so after apologizing and then completing jobs satisfactorily, we were able to refine our product and service to even better serve our customers. We started specializing in only Shaker Cabinets which sped up our production time and allowed us to more strategically market to our customers. Finally, our grasp of our cash flow position enabled us to raise funds in time (through God’s abundant blessing) to make it through our mistake and onto the future. JR  Read more

Business is on Mission Around the Globe

by João Mordomo

Recently, a friend of mine said, “It’ll be great when there are some BAM success stories to talk about.” I couldn’t conceal the shocked look in my eyes as I began to open up his eyes to the reality — yes, reality! — of current BAM successes. But it would have been much easier if I could have simply handed him a book and said, “Read this!” Or pointed him to a short, powerful video series on business and wealth creation. Or recommended some deeply thoughtful and biblical reports about how wealth creation is a key tool in bringing Gospel transformation to the poorest and least-reached people and peoples of the world. Or explained how an entire BAM ecosystem is developing in one of the largest countries in the world!

Now I can. (And so can you.) Over the past two years, the Lausanne Business as Mission Issue Network, together with BAM Global, has been busy producing and providing an assortment of resources related to BAM and wealth creation that are now available in multiple formats and languages. I want to share about a few of them.

Let’s start with a book called BAM Global Movement: Business as Mission Concepts & Stories, written by Gea Gort and Mats Tunehag. Gort is an author, journalist and missiologist who researches, speaks and writes about subjects such as BAM. Tunehag is a global ambassador for business as mission, a co-founder of BAM Global, and a former Lausanne Catalyst. Together they have done a tremendous service by assembling case studies that reflect all sorts of good and God-honoring BAM diversity, be it geographical, denominational, strategic, or in the sheer variety and scope of business activities and arenas. From Europe to Africa to Asia to the Americas, Gort and Tunehag take the reader on a global journey, stopping in on BAM practitioners and BAM activities that are bringing spiritual, economic, social and even environmental transformation to people and communities all over the world.

Throughout the journey Gort and Tunehag weave in some robust biblical underpinnings and teach BAM best practices (and even a few “not-so-best” ones!). They and their collaborators help the reader understand the importance of entrepreneurship and investing and incubating and accelerating, and that while BAM is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it nonetheless is a very real and relevant part of God’s plan to be glorified by engaging His whole Body — the “laity” as much or even more than the “clergy” —  to tackle and transform issues of poverty and justice and the lack of Gospel access. This book is an excellent introduction to BAM and useful both for personal benefit as well as teaching in the classroom.

And speaking of classrooms, Lausanne has launched an exciting initiative called the Lausanne Global Classroom. One of the first ‘Classrooms’ is on Wealth Creation, based on the Consultation on Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation, which took place in March of 2017, with about 30 participants from 20 nations, primarily from the business world, and also from church, missions and academia.

Over one billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since 1990 — more people in a shorter amount of time than ever before in history — due largely to job and wealth creation through small and medium sized businesses. We understand wealth creation to be a holy calling, a God-given gift, commended in the Bible, and a powerful means to eradicate poverty and transform lives, communities, societies and nations for the glory of God. The Wealth Creation Global Classroom is evidence and fruit of this belief. It consists of 13 video lessons, totalling about 45 minutes, based on teaching and interviews with the specialists who participated in the consultation.

Additional fruit from the Wealth Creation Consultation includes seven ground-breaking reports — including Wealth Creation and Justice, Wealth Creation and the Poor, and Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation. You can also read the one page Wealth Creation Manifesto which: calls the church to embrace wealth creation as central to our mission of holistic transformation of peoples and societies; calls for fresh, ongoing efforts to equip and launch wealth creators to that end; and calls wealth creators to persevere and diligently use their God-given gifts to serve God and people.

Brazil is an excellent case in point, an example of what can happen when Christian business professionals begin to understand business as a calling and wealth creation as a godly gift. The BAM vision has been promoted in numerous ways in Brazil since 2001, and then plodded along for nearly 15 years. If we use the “diffusion of innovation” theory as our guide, BAM was solidly in the first phase (“innovators”) of the inverted bell curve, slowly becoming discovered and embraced by key leaders in business, education, mission agencies, and churches, but not by the church at large.

However, in the past three years, we’ve seen a fairly quick uptick in interest, acceptance and utilization of BAM. In other words, it seems that BAM is now entering the second phase (“early adopters”) of innovation theory. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest this. So much, in fact, that a seminal BAM ecosystem is now clearly visible in Brazil:

From the “B” (of BAM) perspective, we can find events to encourage Kingdom and BAM entrepreneurship (similar to “startup weekends”), as well as recently founded BAM incubators, accelerators, and investment funds. There is a growing number of professional services — for example, legal and accounting — becoming available that have a Kingdom mindset and desire to serve BAM goals. There are dozens of Christian-owned businesses that are intentionally moving in the direction of becoming BAM businesses. There are at least two universities that are actively supporting Kingdom business and BAM projects.

From the historical “M” community side, there is a rapidly growing number of churches and mission agencies — as well as the Brazilian Association of Cross-Cultural Missions itself — that are embracing BAM and training and equipping BAM practitioners.

After many years of planting seeds, BAM Brasil was born – an extension of the BAM Global and Lausanne BAM networks – and the first-ever ‘congress’, the Congresso BAM Brasil took place in Maringá, Brazil from November 1st to 4th, 2018. With around 300 people present from all regions of Brazil, and representing four key spheres of interest (business, academia, mission agencies and churches), the congress was by all measures a resounding success. In the wake of the congress, BAM Brasil continues to work to invigorate the BAM movement in and from Brazil. 

If you are feeling envious of those who participated in the BAM Congress in Brazil a few months ago, I’ve got good news for you. The second Business as Mission Global Congress is scheduled to take place in Thailand from 29 April to 3 May, 2020. Mark your calendars!

In the words of Mike Baer, one of the early leaders in the modern Business as Mission movement, “We exist to support church planting among the unreached people groups of the 10/40 Window through the seamless integration of business as mission.” Today — two decades into a movement that truly has become global — we see that BAM is capable of being more than that, but it is never less than that. May God continue to bless and use business for the sake of His great name, in all areas of every society, and among all peoples of the world.

Joao Bio Pic 100Dr. João Mordomo is co-founder and president of CCI-Brasil, a global church planting movement among unreached peoples. João serves variously as owner, managing director and board member of several BAM companies, and serves in several BAM leadership roles including at COMIBAM, BAM Global and Lausanne.

 

 

Cover - BAM Global Movement“Thankfully, there are now many authors who have written on the theology of business and its importance in God’s kingdom. However, the variety of examples and stories in this book truly bring it to life in a way that is clear and compelling. It is time that God’s purpose for business becomes a global movement!” Bonnie P. Wurzbacher, Former Senior Vice President, The Coca-Cola Company, Chief Resource Development Officer, World Vision International

“This is BAM at its best, TED Talk style. Topics are discussed briefly and then followed by practical cases studies that most any church or organization can identify with. These stories show that there is not only one way of doing BAM or running one kind of BAM business. If you read the book just for the case studies, it would be worth the price. If anyone still questions the importance of business as mission in reaching the world and value of integrating faith and work, read this book!”Patrick Lai, OPEN Network