Business as Mission: A Three-fold Mandate

by Mats Tunehag

Business is more than making money, at least it should be. According to the “father of capitalism” Adam Smith, businesses exist to serve the general welfare.

The computer pioneer Dave Packard said: ”Many people assume, wrongly, that a company exists simply to make money. While this is an important result of a company’s existence, we have to go deeper and find the real reasons for our being. People get together and exist as a company so that they are able to accomplish something collectively that they could not accomplish separately – they make a contribution to society.”

In the last few years we have been able to witness the effects of a global economic crisis. Mahatma Gandhi’s list of seven deadly social sins seems to be an accurate diagnosis for some of the causes of this crisis. It has been too much…

  • politics without principle
  • wealth without work
  • commerce without morality
  • pleasure without conscience
  • education without character
  • science without humanity
  • worship without sacrifice

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The Hottest Issues in Business as Mission

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 these major themes to give an overview of some of the most important issues in the business as mission movement.

Here are the Top 10 ‘hottest topics’, 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

Assessing the Viability of a Great Commission Company

by Steve Rundle and Tom Steffen

The following are just a few of the questions that should be asked when assessing the viability of a Great Commission Company (GCC).

Economic Viability
  1. Is there a clear statement of the purpose and goals for the company?
  2. Does the management team have the appropriate experience and training?
  3. Can the business create and maintain a competitive advantage?
  4. From a financial perspective, is the business an attractive investment?
  5. Is there a clear path from start-up to financial sustainability?
  6. Are there investors and other advisers committed to helping the company reach financial sustainability?
  7. Is this a business concept that has worked in other contexts?
  8. What are the risks?
  9. Is the business model flexible enough to allow for expansion, changes in direction or alliances with other companies?
  10. How will the net earnings be distributed?
  11. How and when can the investors expect to be repaid?

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What the Bible Says about Work, Economics and Business

We’ve put together some selected ideas and scriptures for digging deeper into what the Bible says about work, business and the economic sphere.

Ideas and scriptures for further study:

We are to be stewards of God’s creation: Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:15, 19-20, Leviticus 25:2-7, Psalm 8:6.

Provision for human society and multiplication of resources is designed by God to come primarily through dignified work. God is creative and pleased with his work and we are made to be creative in His image: Genesis 2:1-3, Deuteronomy 28:1-13, Joshua 5: 11-12, Psalm 128:1‒2.

Material provisions are good and important for our daily life and the healthy functioning of communities, however they are not sufficient to fully satisfy us as humans: Deuteronomy 8, 1 Kings 4:25, Psalms 62:10, Proverbs 23:4-5, Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, Zechariah 3:10, Matthew 4:4, Matthew 6:33, Mark 8:36.

Business creates opportunities for meaningful work and creativity that is essential for human dignity and a peaceful society: Genesis 2:2-3, Ephesians 6:5-9, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, 2 Thessalonians 3:10–12.

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Thinking Bigger About Business: Biblical Foundations for BAM

What does God say about business? What were His intentions when he made enterprise part of His design for human society? For those pursuing business as mission it is essential to build on solid Biblical foundations.

Three reasons to build a Biblical foundation for business, work and economics:
1. Broadening our horizons

Most start with a particular motivation when they launch into BAM and there is nothing wrong with that. However, embracing all the ways that business might positively impact a community will give us greater potential to intentionally create that impact. Let us understand and embrace the fullness of God’s design for business. Let us celebrate His intentions. As we do that, we will have to say, “Wow!” God is so creative and He has given us the ability to be creative, to add value, to make money, to create wealth and come up with new innovations, that provide livelihoods, that help a community develop, that help us live in peace, that close the door on exploitation, that give lives meaning and transform people’s values, that communicates the Gospel… These are all God’s gifts to us in business! Read more

Entrepreneurs on Mission: Two Barriers to Break Through

by Mark Russell

There comes a day when we sit back and ask ourselves what we are going to do with our lives. In a sense, I am still asking myself that question. But many years ago I felt a nudge, a call if you will, to spend time in cross-cultural contexts advancing the gospel. At the time, I had no idea what that entailed. The only role models I had to look to were the missionaries I had met in Paraguay. They were either medical doctors or preachers. As a business student, it seemed I would have to leave behind my business interests and develop a new set of skills.

A few years into my overseas ministry, I began to ask myself some new questions about why couldn’t one be a businessperson and a kingdom builder at the same time.   At the time I was working in a traditional missionary setting, but quickly found that a lot of people resonated with my search to integrate business and mission. Later, I realized that people all over the world were working independently to the same end. It seems God is up to something.

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BAM in a Box?

by Mats Tunehag

One can identify 3 essential activities that have helped to catalyze and grow the global Business as Mission (BAM) movement: 1. Developing the concept 2. Spreading the concept and 3. Applying the concept.

Of course one cannot credit just one book, event, person or organization with the current interest in Business as Mission amongst Christians today. BAM is a Biblical concept and thus as old as the foundational stories of creation. It is based on theology and anthropology; who God is and what he does, and who we are as human beings and what we are called to do. Good and godly principles of work and value added processes are found in the first chapters of the book of Genesis. God has used women and men throughout history to serve God and nations in and through business. Read more

Building the Kingdom Through Business

by Bridget Adams and Manoj Raithatha

In his book Screw Business as Usual, Sir Richard Branson outlines his vision for nothing less than global transformation. He asks, ‘Can we bring more meaning to our lives and help change the world at the same time… a whole new way of doing things, solving major problems and turning our working into something we both love and are proud of. His proposed solution is a new way of doing business. ‘It is time to …shift our values, to switch from a profit focus to caring for people, communities and the planet.’ Sometimes God uses prophets from outside the Church!

The world, it seems, wants business to change. The voices, powerful voices, are being heard out there. The Church, who you might think would be driving this new found hunger for ethics and transformative business, is in danger of being left behind. Branson knows that business can change the world for good, but we believe it can also change the world for God. Business can help build the Kingdom.

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Gleanings: Rediscovering God’s Solutions for Poverty

by Tim Weinhold

Over three thousand years ago God himself preemptively weighed in on one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century — how can we solve poverty?  One of his answers is found in Leviticus 19: 9-10: Gleanings.

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

God mandated that the landed farmers of ancient Israel not reap their fields to the very borders.  They were to leave the edges unharvested so that the poor could come and gather for themselves these set-aside “gleanings”.

From our modern vantage point, gleanings might seem a very quaint idea from a very distant and different past. Gleanings seems to be about making a curious connection between farming and the poor which has little application in today’s modern world.

Hidden beneath its ancient agrarian trappings, however, the gleanings model has much to teach us. There is more wisdom here than meets the eye, wisdom now in urgent need of rediscovery. Two thirds of the world’s people live in poverty.  For one third, subsistence itself is under constant threat.  All this despite an absolutely unprecedented scale and variety of anti-poverty efforts over the last half century. Read more

Making Ice Cream, Making Disciples in Central Asia

James admits, almost as a confession, that he does enjoy a bit of number crunching… “I love taking an idea and turning it into reality,” he says, “I really enjoy the whole process of researching a business idea, doing feasibility studies, analysing the data, crunching the numbers and really trying to figure out whether a business will work!”.

James is the co-owner of an Ice Cream Manufacturing Business in a large city in “Byghistan”, a country in Central Asia. Although James grew up in a family that owned businesses, he didn’t see himself as a business person until recently and has discovered this innate passion for business as he has gone along.

Beginnings

James and his family moved to Byghistan in 2006, with a desire to work for the Gospel amongst an ethnic group indigenous to that particular city. Initially they focused on language learning and becoming established in the country. As their 2 years as language students came to an end, James and his wife began looking for opportunities that would enable them to stay longer. At first they saw running a business primarily as a way to get a longer-term visa and stay in the country, however right from the start they knew the business must be credible. Read more