More Fruitful Practices for BAM and Church Planting

Although BAM companies integrating church planting strategies tend to be very diverse, there are some common fruitful practices. Read the first 7 practices in Part 1 here. Part 2, more fruitful practices for BAM and church planting:

8. Prayer

Incorporate prayer right from the start.

Prayer is one of the cornerstones of church planting and BAM. Some of the businesses incorporate prayer in their meetings with key staff, while most pray for their business, and their business decisions on a regular basis. Most BAMers regularly pray for their staff and sometimes have opportunities to pray with their employees individually. Most people respond to and welcome prayer for themselves and family members, especially at times of distress and trouble. Often BAM practitioners develop a reputation as a man or woman of prayer and have people seek them out because of answers to prayer. In one company, a business owner prayed for healing of a sick woman, who had tried many other options, and she was healed. This gave the owner a chance to talk about spiritual ideas and a church was started as a result.    Read more

7 Fruitful Practices for BAM and Church Planting

BAM companies are usually very diverse, each business with its own unique features. However, through research into real experiences of BAM and Church Planting, some shared commonalities emerged in the following fruitful practices:

1. Contact

Make sure that the business provides regular contact with the focus people.

Intentionally create a business that provides regular contact with those with whom you are hoping to share the gospel – whether they are employees, customers, suppliers or others. A bakery business owner estimates that they have a chance to meet an average of 100 people a day. Christ can be made known to staff, suppliers, and customers through business activities. One employer who hires local women who come from difficult home lives seeks to help those women achieve a greater quality of life. Another BAM company provides business opportunities and income for local Christian leaders, encouraging them to stay and carry on the church planting work rather than moving away for employment to support their families. An agricultural business enables local Christians to do church planting work by training them in an egg production business. In this model they also help the trainees set up the businesses which provides contacts for them, as well as an income. This agriculture business also provides church planting training to the locals as part of their strategy.

Although the business is usually the context in which contacts are made and relationships started, several BAM practitioners (BAMers) mentioned that conversations about spiritual matters typically take place outside of the workplace. However, in other cases BAMers reported that these conversations start naturally through a shared work environment. Read more

Getting Out, Getting In, Staying In, Sinking In: Church Planting and Business Today

by João Mordomo

Last week in Part 1 I looked at Paul’s exploits as a maker of tents and concluded that business and church planting were made for each other! Properly configured, church planting teams and business startup teams can be one and the same. There are many good reasons that we ought to consider seriously the benefits of this model in missions today. Here are just four of them.

Getting Out

Many conventional church planting missionaries simply cannot get out of the starting blocks and to the field due to a lack of financial resources. This is especially true right now in Brazil, where I am based. “Difficult” is often an understatement when it comes to raising and maintaining a donor base. The overall economic situation in many countries is characterized by some combination of various ills such as poverty, corruption, inflation and weak currencies. But should potential missionaries be disqualified from serving the Lord cross-culturally simply because their churches either donʼt have, or don’t think they have, the resources to send them? The obvious answer is no. BAM is a model that can creatively access and utilize the numerous resources that can be found – and not just money, but talent and people, especially the so-called and often undervalued “laypeople” – for Godʼs global glory.

But the financial benefit is only the first of four, and the traditional missionary model – even when the missionary manages to raise all of his or her support – does not usually provide the next three benefits for cross-cultural church planting among unreached peoples in restricted access nations. Read more

Business and Church Planting: Made for Each Other!

by João Mordomo

In recent years, many people have begun to more fully appreciate the huge power and potential of business as mission as both a means to enter into contexts where missionaries are unwelcome, and a mechanism to catalyze church planting among unreached peoples. In fact, while other models often work in other contexts, BAM is distinctly qualified to open doors where the Gospel and church planting often are most needed. I won’t say “uniquely” qualified because I don’t want to get an influx of emails calling me a BAM extremist, but I will admit I lean in that direction!

Yet while the power of BAM to catalyze church planting becomes increasingly apparent to us, this relationship is not a new one. Luke, in apparently hyperbolic fashion, wrote in Acts 19:10 that in a period of two years, “all the residents of Asia (roughly today’s Turkey) heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” What was he thinking? Surely a medical doctor and historian would never resort to such embellishment of the truth! Read more

How Not to Be Weird: Living Lives That Make Sense

by Patrick Lai

When we first started working with Muslims we had a traditional approach. We tried to meet people on the streets and in our neighborhood to share the Gospel. We’d ride buses, go to the gym, hang out in parks. When we could get people into a conversation we’d try to turn the discussion to spiritual things and then Jesus. Despite our efforts we did not have great success. 

When we stepped back and considered our approach we realized not many people engage in discussions with strangers in public places. For example, how many lasting friendships do you have that first started on a bus? What we were doing was not natural, it’s not the way people meet other people. Most people build friendships either through their extended family, their place of worship, or their place of work. The way we were meeting people was weird. Read more

Why Integrate Business and Church Planting?

There are some good reasons to combine business and church planting. Indeed, combining the two did not just begin when missionaries could not find visas to live in closed countries. Instead, there has been a natural merging of business, church planting and the presentation of the gospel throughout church history.

The apostle Paul himself was a tentmaker, or small business owner. He supported himself and saw this strategy as being beneficial for church planting. For example, among the Thessalonians, Paul “Worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while [he] preached the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:9). This example was needed to teach the Thessalonians that they also were to work and not be idle (2 Thessalonians 3:8-9). In Corinth, Paul did not accept payment from the people in order to clarify the message of the gospel, making it clear that the his preaching was not tied to financial gain (1 Corinthians 9, 2 Corinthians 12). Yet Paul’s tentmaking was not absolute; he would accept support and be “fully devoted” to preaching and teaching where there was support and when the context was appropriate (Acts 18:5). Read more

Apples to Apples: Measuring Progress Across an Organisation

We interviewed Timothy, a consultant with a mission sending organisation that has been developing a metrics tool to evaluate businesses across their organisation globally.

How did this metrics tool come about?

I work as part of a team that consults to and supports BAM-type entities across Asia and we were looking for a way to evaluate how those entities were performing and started to develop this benchmarking tool. At the same time another region was working on a similar idea and we realised that it would be far more effective to work on one tool that could be applied globally across our organisation. We want to be able to compare ‘apples to apples’ and get a better read on what is working well worldwide.

What is the tool’s purpose and how has that shaped its design?

Well first of all we wanted it to be a tool that would help business owners identify areas in which they could grow and improve. It has to serve those on the field at the sharp end of doing business so we have tried to make it straight-forward to use and informative. For instance, we have limited the number of questions practitioners have to answer so that it is not an unwieldy time-waster. The reports are laid out in a user-friendly way using various charts and formats so that areas for growth can be quickly pinpointed. It’s a tool that we’ll use when we are consulting with individual companies as a way of focusing on strengths and weaknesses. The results will be part of the ongoing conversation with the business owners, providing a framework for accountability and planning. Read more

Getting Started: Essential Metrics for your BAM Company

Every business is unique, metrics need to be tailored to the company to reflect the company’s unique goals, context and challenges. That said, there are certain metrics which should be monitored as a minimum by any business. These essential metrics are all aimed at ensuring the owners of the BAM company are able to answer for themselves the key questions:

  • Are we doing what we set out to do?
  • Are we being responsive to God’s call and the Spirit’s leading?
  • Do we have the cash we need to operate and meet our commitments and is it likely that we will continue to be solvent in the coming year?
  • Are we being good stewards of the money that has been invested with us?
  • Are we caring for and developing our employees?
  • Are we damaging or helping the environment?

Not every business needs dozens of charts and numbers to answer these questions. In many cases the answers will be obvious. However, a few carefully selected, measured and reported metrics can help bring clarity. The following list contains recommendations for how to cover these questions. Read more

Making Sense of the World of Metrics

Measurement and metrics can be deceptively simple. We pick an aspect of our business and ask some basic questions about it, for example:

  • How many tables did each of the servers take care of each day?
  • How many sales calls did each of the sales staff make each day?
  • What is the company’s net profit each month?
  • How many people viewed our latest Google ad last week?
  • Which of our products gives the highest profit and which gives the lowest?

Answering such questions can help a manager understand a bit more about the business, however, there is a lot more to establishing metrics than simply asking and answering a few questions. It matters a great deal that we ask the right questions, that we get correct answers in a timely fashion and that we analyze the answers carefully then apply what we have learned.

Why are you measuring?

Metrics can be used for a variety of reasons. Purpose drives design, that is the design of the measure changes depending on how it will be used. Sometimes the desire will be to assess the state of the business for a one time decision that needs to be made. Other times the goal will be to establish a base and ongoing input for process improvement and management.  For example, a loan company will likely make an assessment of the business for a simple yes or no answer to the question “Is this company capable of repaying the loan?” Or an outside owner may want an answer to the question “Is management accomplishing its objectives?” However, an internal manager is likely to ask questions such as “Are we on track with our sales plan and if not, how can we get back on track?” The manager’s question is likely to be a process question, looking for diagnostics. The investor’s question is to make a one-time decision. The outside owner’s question falls somewhere in between, sometimes it would be a matter of replacing the manager and other times—one hopes—it would be aimed at helping the manager improve performance. Read more

Measuring the Impact and Performance of BAM: Intro to Metrics

Business as mission is hard. Very hard! Missionaries with little business experience but plenty of vision start businesses and struggle. Experienced business people start businesses in new countries or cultures and struggle. Too many business as mission (BAM) companies wander in the desert aimlessly. They need a compass to guide them—something to remind them of their direction and tell them if they are on track. Well designed and implemented metrics can help.

Metrics are measures. They are like the control panel on a car—the gauges, lights and dials that tell you how fast you’re going, how much fuel is left and whether you’re headed for trouble. You can drive a car without a fuel gauge or a speedometer, but you will likely run into serious trouble before too much time has passed.

Measures can be numbers, stories, graphs, or generalized reports. These metrics provide an insight into what’s really going on inside the operation. That matters to all who are working hard to see the business achieve its purpose—to glorify God. Read more