Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever: A Response

by Ross O’Brien

Like Mats Tunehag in his original article Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever, I hope that one day followers of Jesus whom God has gifted for business will naturally recognize their vocational call to the marketplace as a call to fulfill the missio Dei, the mission of God.

God’s purpose in the world is to redeem all creation from the effects of sin and restore all creation back into right relationship with himself. As followers of Jesus we have the blessed privilege and responsibility of co-working with God in this mission. I agree with much of what Mats say in this article and in general.

However, I question a few points, which reflects some of my own mental pilgrimage on BAM.  Read more

God Uses Business to Bring You Closer to Him

by Dave Kahle

God uses our businesses as devices to nudge us closer to Him and to build the attitudes and practices that enable our next step up the spiritual growth continuum.

It was 2010, and the financial crises which exploded in 2008 was, at last, reaching my business. My clients, B2B sales organizations, were shrinking and a few were going out of business. Investing in developing their sales force – the heart of my business – was nowhere on their agenda.

Whereas we had done fully-subscribed sales seminars around the country for ten years previously, now we canceled 9 of 10 seminars for lack of registrations. Individual speaking engagements had disappeared, and sales of books and videos had shrunk to next to nothing. Our corporate income declined by 80%.

The business that had consumed most of my time and energy for 20 years was disappearing. It was like a big part of me had withered away and was being amputated.

On the day that I canceled the last three seminars for lack of registrations, I realized that we had nothing booked for the future. I was going to have to lay off most of my staff.

I closed the door to my office and burst into tears. The business that had consumed most of my time and energy for 20 years was disappearing. It was like a big part of me had withered away and was being amputated.

“Lord,” I cried, “what do you want from me?”

Over the next few years, the Lord answered that question. Among other things, He wanted me to grow closer to Him and more mature in my spirituality. And I have.

Of course, our understanding of events is always clearer in retrospect. As I looked back on that experience, one of the lessons is this: God uses our businesses as devices to nudge us closer to Him and to build the attitudes and practices that enable our next step up the spiritual growth continuum.

In my case, I grew more humble and more aware of my dependence on Him. My prayer life multiplied, my awareness of grace and God’s involvement in my life expanded dramatically, my empathy for others increased, and I felt directed to spend more of my time and talents into helping other Christian business people grow Biblical businesses.

God uses our businesses as devices to nudge us closer to Him and to build the attitudes and practices that enable our next step up the spiritual growth continuum.

In the years since, as I have interacted with hundreds of Christian business people, I’ve come to understand the power in a business to shape the owners of that business and to corral them into a closer relationship with God.

The downturns and disappointments bring us to our knees in passionate intercession for God’s intervention. Every Christian business person I know feels a tremendous responsibility for the folks who make their living from the business. Not just employees, but vendors, lenders, and customers all get some value from their relationship with the business, and the owners take that responsibility very seriously. They are not just praying for their personal incomes, but for the economic impact on hundreds of other stakeholders.

On the other hand, the economic blessing that comes with profits and success allows us to bless others – whether they be additional employees in a growing business, shareholders reaping the reward for their risks, or other good people shepherding organizations and works that reach needs beyond the scope of our businesses. “What to do with the profits” is a decision that often requires just as much prayer and spiritual guidance.

A Christian-owned business is one of God’s most effective tools for developing His people.

In either case, the ebbs and flows of shepherding a business nudge us to a closer relationship with the Lord, force us to learn new skills, press new attitudes and understandings into us, and grow us into a higher level of spiritual maturity.

This is, of course, how God intended it. The relationship between an owner and his economic household is a well-established Biblical pattern. God blesses or curses the entire household – family, employees, slaves, servants – based on the actions of the head. Abraham was rewarded for his growing faith by an increasing amount of personal wealth and greater role in God’s plan. The two servants in the parable of the bags of gold were rewarded for their wise investments with a larger responsibility and a closer relationship with the master – just like Abraham. On the other hand, the servant who didn’t invest wisely was cast out of the master’s household.

And that makes a Christian-owned business one of God’s most effective tools for developing His people.

 

This article was first published in Dave Kahle’s Practical Wisdom blog here.

Dave KahleDave Kahle has been a Bible teacher, elder, house church leader, short-term missionary and Christian executive roundtable leader. For 30 years, he has been an authority on sales and sales systems, having spoken in 47 states and eleven countries. He has authored 13 books, including The Good Book on Business. Sign up for his weekly messages here.

More from Dave at: www.davekahle.com and www.thebiblicalbusiness.com.

 

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Join Dave Kahle as he explores what the Bible has to say about businesses and your role in leading a kingdom oriented business.  You’ll uncover Biblical truths that you may have never seen before. Your views on business will never be the same.

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8 Business Failures: What we Learned

by Larry Sharp

‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ (George Santayana-1905). In a 1948 speech to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill changed the quote slightly when he said (paraphrased), ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.’

I was recently cleaning up some physical files, when I ran across a spreadsheet from 2008/09 listing IBEC projects which provided data on the status of the start-up, metrics for success and other interesting information. I found it curious that many of these businesses we worked with in the first two years of our existence have “failed”.

It reminded me of a conference in Arizona a few years ago, when after I had cited many success stories, a person in the audience asked me, “don’t you guys have any failures?”

Now I would be the first to recognize that “failures” are not really failures, but more accurately experiments in learning. In the famous words of Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And so it may be with those early years in IBEC.

There is no perfect assessment of a cause-effect relationship, and I acknowledge that my perspective is personal and anecdotal, however I believe those closest to these situations would concur that what I relate here is at least at least one primary reason for the demise. Here is an effort to “remember the past” with a view to giving reasons for the demise of each dream and a statement of what we learned. I will not provide specific identification of the geographical area nor the persons involved out of respect for security issues and the fact that I do not want to disparage the efforts of anyone.  Read more

Still Hot? The Hottest Issues in Business as Mission Revisited

Six years ago, as part of the work of the BAM Think Tank and the lead in to the 2013 BAM Global Congress, we surveyed 200 people engaged with business as mission in some way and asked them the question: ‘What is the hottest topic in the BAM movement today?’ Or in other words, what is the one question they would most like to see answered in business as mission?

The wide variety of responses were grouped into major themes to give a broad overview of some of the most important issues in the business as mission movement.

As we announce the dates for the next BAM Global Congress in 2020, we thought it would be worth revisiting this list. We have grown much as a movement since the last BAM Congress 5 1/2 years ago, though undoubtedly there is still work to do in all of these areas.

Here are the Top 10 ‘hottest topics’ from our 2012 Survey, in reverse order:

10. How do we mobilise more business people? How will business people embrace their calling and get involved?

9. How do we practice biblical, ethical business in the face of the face of hostile realities in the world? How do we maintain our values in the face of corruption and greed? Read more

The Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission: The Power of Integration

by Will Sorrell

Conference centers fill and coffee carafes empty at countless Christian conferences each year. Recently, faith and work1 as well as business as mission (BAM)2 have been popular themes. They are similar in scope, seeking Gospel renewal and redemption in and through the vehicle of work. Nevertheless, these interrelated fields do not intersect nearly enough.

A recent article from Mats Tunehag, co-author of BAM Global Movement, describes the business as mission movement as upheld and driven by three biblical mandates: the Cultural Mandate (Gen. 1:28), the Greatest Commandment (Matt. 22:37-39), and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). He precisely states that those engaged in BAM must keep all three at the forefront of their intentions, their businesses, and their missions. This is a helpful framework, but does not always materialize in a balanced way. It is not difficult to imagine some BAM entrepreneurs and tentmakers3 placing emphasis upon the Commission over the Cultural Mandate.

Faith and work invites Christians to see the God-ordained value in their existing vocation. Work that promotes human, environmental, and economic flourishing is indeed worship, and we must treat it accordingly.

Meanwhile, the rapidly growing faith and work movement—in the United States and elsewhere—heavily emphasizes societal renewal. Faith and work invites Christians to see the God-ordained value in their existing vocation. Work that promotes human, environmental, and economic flourishing is indeed worship, and we must treat it accordingly. However, faith and work integration must not neglect the charge to make disciples locally and globally.  Read more

Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation

Intentional Stewardship

Along with the spiritual, financial, and social bottom line, the environmental bottom line is an integral measure of a God-centered successful business. The subject of this series is wealth creation for holistic transformation. The work of wealth creators includes sharing the Good News of salvation through Jesus, improving the financial wellbeing of society and the staff within their companies, providing the dignity of work and the stability that ensues from meaningful long term employment, developing a society where we love each other as we love ourselves, and providing the clean energy, water, air and land on which we live. The wealth creator acknowledges this inextricably linked web of relationship with Christ, society and creation.

Environmental stewardship, then, is not an add-on. It is not part of a marketing plan to ‘look good’. It is a God-given command to steward his creation. By affirming one’s business and passion for wealth creation as an important part of the business ecology and an instrument in meeting the cultural mandate, creation will be restored and opportunities for wealth creation will be seen. Each business run by wealth creators has a specialty, a God-gift, and points of excellence that can be applied to a pressing environmental issue. A transportation company can work on innovative fuel efficiency and improve transportation of needed medicines. A restaurant can source its food stocks with care,[i] and reduce food waste by supporting the food bank with excess, then composting the rest. An office can install passive cooling, energy efficient lighting and provide incentives to reduce commuting or increase the use of less polluting transport for their employees. Companies have the advantage of scale and resources to do much good quickly. Environmental discipline is financial discipline (conservation of resources), social discipline (respect of local communities and the resources under their stewardship), and spiritual discipline (obeying God’s commandment to steward the earth). The bottom lines are integral and are split into four for convenience, but not in practice. A company is not truly profitable until it affects a positive return in each bottom line. Stewardship is intentional and requires discipline to carry it out. Sustainable living is to ‘aim for a full, just and responsible enjoyment of the amazing gifts that our generous God has provided for us.’[ii] Read more

What If? Business Solutions to Environmental Problems

by Mark Polet

In the conversation around environmental impact for social enterprises, impact businesses, and indeed, BAM companies, there are two strands that integrate and weave around one another – like strands of DNA.

The first strand, addressed in my previous post, is that every impact business should be an environmental company, complying with the ethic and regulations around good environmental practice, acknowledging that we are stewards of God’s creation.

The other strand is the provision of environmental technology and solutions as a business opportunity in itself. Positive environmental impact can be achieved, not only through operational choices that care for creation and steward natural resources, but by the very product or service offered by the business.

Environmental Challenges are Business Opportunities

Peter Drucker said, “Every single social and global issue of our day is a business opportunity in disguise.” This is particularly true of the myriad environmental issues to be faced in our day.  Read more

Tikkun Olam: How Companies Can Repair the World

by Mark Polet

My good friend, Eric, and I recently walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain together with another of our friends. We were walking through the rolling plains near León, where we could see the pastures and fields for kilometres in every direction, bracketed on three sides by the coastal mountains, the Pyrénées and the hills of Galicia. God’s creation lay before us like an open book. Perhaps inspired by such a scene, Eric told me about the Hebrew concept of Tikkun Olam, ‘Repair the World’.

Repair the World

Romans 8 is pretty clear that the liberation and restoration of creation is integrated with our redemption. We in the impact business space have the profound privilege of repairing the world economically, spiritually, socially and environmentally, carrying out the commandment of ‘Working in the Garden,’ (Gen 2:15).

Let’s focus on how we as Impact Business leaders can ‘Repair the World’ from an environmental perspective. In 41 years of service, I have had the privilege helping companies from over 21 different industry types fulfil their environmental obligations, and in some cases, show environmental excellence.  Read more

Who Cares About Creation Care?

by Mats Tunehag

We know we are to be good stewards of creation. Those are God’s instructions to humans in Genesis 1 & 2 – especially Gen.1:28, often known as the ‘creation mandate’ (also ‘cultural mandate).

In the Business as Mission (BAM) movement we typically talk about the quadruple bottom line of social, spiritual, environmental and economic impact:

In and through business we want to:

  • serve people,
  • align with God’s purposes,
  • be good stewards of the planet,
  • and make a profit.

But how are we doing in the BAM community with stewardship of the planet? How are BAM companies leading the way in positive environmental change?

We know from our work in the BAM Global Network that creation care and environmental stewardship is a relatively weak area for BAM companies, and and that BAM practitioners feel under-resourced and overwhelmed by this challenge. Creation care is a topic in much need of further exploration in the BAM movement. This is why we are launching a blog series focused on BAM and Creation Care on The BAM Review in the coming month.  Read more

Marketing and Customer Service through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we began looking at Porter’s value chain as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we also sought to use the tool as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this third part of the series, we examine marketing and service, the final two primary activities in the value chain.

Read more